Provider Spotlight: Summer Fun and Feathery Friends: Baltimore County Program Remains Focused on Quality Care Amidst an Exciting Summer

Children and families at the Goddard School in Owings Mills have access to a diverse range of learning opportunities–from Spanish and Mandarin language lessons, to art and dancing, and even hatching baby chicks.

The program, which runs year-round for children from 6 weeks to 5 years old, just wrapped up an exciting summer that included even more opportunities.

In June, the program hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its new outdoor classroom, which was funded by the Jennifer Nizer Passion for Excellence award.

said Caitlyn Holley, director of the Goddard School in Owings Mills. “I know that Jennifer’s passion is excellence in child care. We wanted to honor her and what she’s contributed to this work.”

Ms. Holley went on to share, “The children and teachers have loved having the outdoor classroom. All of the normal indoor experiences are brought outside, including dramatic play, water play, and the other stations we have set up in our indoor classrooms.”

In addition to creating spaces to broaden children’s opportunity to learn, the Goddard School recognizes the importance of family engagement, a key component of the Maryland EXCELS Standards. Part of family engagement includes creating experiences that extend beyond the classroom. To further engage families in this experience, the school partnered with nearby Woodland Farms to learn how to care for chicken eggs.

The farm provided the equipment to incubate the eggs and care for the chicks after they hatched.

When the chicks hatched, The Goddard School live-streamed the excitement on Facebook and YouTube so families could watch the birth of their new feathery friends.

“The eggs hatched over the weekend, so the live-stream was a great way to still keep the children involved in the process,” said Educational Coordinator Lisa Dickinson. “It was a fantastic way for the [children] to share the experience at home and school.”

Another recent focus for The Goddard School staff has been continuing to improve the quality of the program by pursuing Maryland Accreditation and preparing for their upcoming Validator visit.

“Our program changed owners in 2016, and since then we’ve been working really hard toward accreditation,” Holley said.

The Goddard School, which is currently published at a Quality Rating 3, is working on increasing their quality rating to a 5 by 2019.

“It is so important to have quality in your program,” Dickinson said. “Not only that, but it’s important for families to understand what that [quality] looks like.”

She said Maryland EXCELS has given them that opportunity.

“We get families that request tours with us, and they share that they found us on the Maryland EXCELS website,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson also said that their program has had a wonderful experience with Maryland EXCELS. “[Advice I’d give to other programs is that Maryland EXCELS] is an important opportunity to provide the quality the community is looking for. This is a marketing opportunity for programs and Maryland EXCELS is doing a great job of putting programs into the market,” she said.