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Y’s preschool blazed trail for others to follow

While the upcoming closure of the YWCA’s preschool is sad, that should not stop the community from celebrating the pioneering program that served children for 50 years.

Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

If it’s true that children are a community’s most valuable resource, the YWCA of the Sauk Valley has certainly done its part over the years to nurture that resource.

This year marks a milestone in the agency’s service to local children.

Fifty years ago, the YWCA launched its preschool at a time when few others offered such early childhood educational services.

For half a century, the YWCA has provided the community with a “top-notch, child-centered program” that has “touched the lives of hundreds of children and their families,” as Carol Fitzgerald, executive director of the YWCA, wrote in a letter to the editor last month.

The same letter, sadly, announced the upcoming closure of the pioneering preschool. The reasons, Fitzgerald wrote, were because of “teacher retirements, mutiplying state requirements, and economics.”

A Sauk Valley Media story earlier this week took a closer look at how the preschool operates and the important way it has served the community.

Currently, the program has one section of 4- and 5-year-olds, one class of 3-year-olds, and two classes of 2-year-olds.

A teacher mentioned that the program for 2-year-olds was the only preschool option for that age group in four counties.

Since the mid-1960s, other preschools, following the YWCA’s lead, have opened to serve the area. Because the YWCA’s program has been running at a deficit, the time came to evaluate whether the agency should focus its efforts elsewhere.

The end of the YWCA’s preschool (the doors will close May 20) should not take away from its decades of service.

“We are grateful to have touched the lives of hundreds of children and their families,” Fitzgerald wrote.

That gratitude, we believe, is mutual.

Next month, those hundreds of people will have a way to express their own gratitude when the YWCA celebrates the preschool’s 50 years. Details of the special event will be announced later.

We join the community in congratulating the YWCA, its teachers and staff for their half century of service to our community’s most valuable resource.

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