Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning Invites Milton Hershey School to Join ECE Conversation
Last week, Milton Hershey School students and several members of leadership participated in an important conversation around early childhood education across the United States. Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS) welcomed professionals who work with young children and families to the inaugural Early Childhood Education (ECE) Leaders Summit.
Educators, coaches, site leaders, principals, district leaders, social workers, health care providers, and community partners gathered at Hershey Lodge on March 23-24. The theme of this year’s Summit—Growing the Future, Together—was an invitation for members of the ECE community to inspire each other, build relationships, and unite on the shared goals of creating high-quality learning communities for our youngest citizens.
“Everyone in attendance brings unique expertise and experiences that allow us to collectively work together to build on the foundation of early childhood education,” said MHS and CHS President Pete Gurt ’85 during his welcoming remarks. “Together we are renewing our commitment to the next generation and are reminded of the importance of equipping each child with the skills they need to succeed early on.”
In addition to the more than 200 guests in attendance, 15 MHS students from the Education and Human Services Career and Technical Education career pathway also experienced the Summit and interacted with national ECE leaders. The students attended panel discussions and met keynote speakers, Junlei Li, Ph.D., program chair of Human Development and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Walter Gilliam Ph.D., executive director of the Buffet Early Childhood Institute. Li and Gilliam discussed their careers in early childhood education and their passion for the profession.
“Attending a conference like this is an opportunity to learn and see the community of education in action,” said Brianna Kapel, MHS Junior. “I’m able to gain knowledge and perspective by seeing people who are in the career I hope to be in one day.”
Brianna and her classmates will take what they learned at the ECE Leaders Summit and apply it to their future college and career goals. For Brianna, that’s becoming an early education teacher. Since the founding of the school, MHS has focused on developing its students for what’s next. Whether higher education, military, or the workforce, all students graduate from MHS with the skills they need to jumpstart a successful and sustaining career. Hands-on opportunities like this one—to meet experts in the field—will help students grow their critical thinking skills and confidence to ask important questions that will have lasting impact.
Several MHS Visual and Performing Arts students also shared their talents with Summit attendees on Wednesday evening, bringing music and a small glimpse into performing arts opportunities at the school.
The meaningful connections, knowledge shared, and expanded opportunities that resulted from the ECE Leaders Summit are a testament to the enduring vision of our founders Milton and Catherine Hershey. That vision is reflected in the ways MHS educates and empowers children and families.
As a subsidiary of MHS, CHS is informed by the more than 113 years of experience MHS brings to helping children and families find success. Through the school’s $350 million early childhood education initiative, there are initially six cost-free early childhood education centers being developed in Pennsylvania. The first center, located in Hershey, will open in the fall of 2023.