|By Carley Dangona|
WEST SPRINGFIELD Lower Pioneer Valley Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) is the recipient of a $25,000 grant for the purchase of equipment to support its vocational programs.
CTEC was one of 25 schools that then-Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray named on May 29 as recipients of funds totaling $1.1 million in Vocational School Equipment Grants for fiscal year 2013. The schools service 184 communities and 1,671 students across the Commonwealth, according to Murray.
"The grant awards will provide state-of-the-art equipment for students to learn the skills necessary for today's innovation economy," David Ferreira, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, said.
Don Jarvis, principal and director of occupational education at CTEC, explained that the grant would be used to purchase equipment for the brand new Early Education and Care Program.
"The program will start in fall of 2013 and will allow students to earn an Early Education License to become care providers at the end of their four years at CTEC. A main feature of the program is a partnership between CTEC and the Mittineague Children's Center, 'Mitt Kids,' where students will have the opportunity to internship," Jarvis said.
Jarvis continued, "CTEC will also feature an on-site, licensed daycare right next door to the Early Education Classroom." He said that like the Children's Center, the daycare will provide care for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, but would be much smaller in size.
He said that construction of the new classroom, which needs to have a kitchen and two bathrooms to serve its purpose, will begin July. He estimated that construction would be complete by mid-August, in time for Sept. 3, the first day of the 2013-2014 school year.
According to Jarvis, the rates for the CTEC daycare will be priced at 10 percent less than surrounding sites. It will be open during school days from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
He noted that students with children who qualify for government aid will be able to sign up for the daycare first. From there, openings will be offered to teachers and then the general public if space permits.
"An added benefit of the on-site daycare is that the children will be exposed from an early age to a variety of careers. For example, the children will see students participating in the landscaping program and those same students will present a workshop to the children how to plant seeds," Jarvis said.
With the money, CTEC will purchase equipment for the daycare such as child-size, adaptable furniture, a sand table, and age-appropriate bicycles, according to the items listed on the grant application.
Jarvis said the equipment will enable the daycare to receive a higher Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) that make students in the program eligible for skilled jobs.
According to the EEC website, the QRIS Standards evaluate the areas of Curriculum and Learning; Safe, Healthy Indoor and Outdoor Environments; Workforce Development and Professional Qualifications; Family and Community Engagement; and Leadership, Administration and Management.
QRIS scores are based upon four levels; the higher the level awarded to a site, the better it meets QRIS standards.
Jarvis anticipates the center will earn at least a Level 2 QRIS, which would not be possible without the grant money to purchase equipment for the program.
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