What is the St. Francis Early Learning Academy?
The St. Francis Early Learning Academy is a new Preschool facility owned and operated by the Lafayette Catholic School System serving children ages 3 to 5. The facility, which opened in August 2020, has 8 newly renovated classrooms specifically designed for early childhood education, complete with restrooms, appropriate technology and new furniture that meets all licensing and early childhood accreditation requirements. The facility also has two newly designed and renovated age appropriate playgrounds with equipment similar to that seen here: https://www.playgroundequipment.com/rose-creek/ and a Large Motor Room/Gym that will have age appropriate activities similar to the one seen at this link: https://www.softplay.com/products/small-play-areas/.
Where is it located?
The St. Francis Early Learning Academy is located at 1223 N. 16th Street, Lafayette, Indiana. This location is a mile or less from all three of the LCSS elementary schools, and less than 5 miles from all six of our local Catholic parishes.
What is the direct phone line to St. Francis Early Learning Academy?
The direct phone line for the St. Francis Early Learning Academy is (765) 767-4200.
Will Faith and Gospel Values still be taught and be an integral part of the programming at the new facility?
Yes. The St. Francis Early Learning Academy will adhere to the Mission of the Lafayette Catholic School System and will continue to be centered on Jesus Christ. Our staff will also promote and incorporate our 9 Core Gospel Values.
Our Catholic identity is evident throughout the facility and includes religious messaging, themes and imagery. The Large Motor Room will also serve as a chapel and group prayer area. Our six parish priests and associates visit the children regularly and field trips to the St. Francis Perpetual Adoration Chapel on the St. Elizabeth Central Campus (three blocks away) will be part of the programming for the children once COVID restrictions have been eased. Additionally, faith continues to be integrated throughout the curriculum.
How do I register my child?
Existing LCSS families are notified of an Early Registration period in mid-January. Open registration for the community will begin at a Winter Open House that will be held in late January. If you would like more information, or have questions, please complete this form.
What are the hours of operation, tuition and calendar?
The new facility offers services to children from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, M-F and follows the LCSS school calendar. Families will have the option to choose among the following programs.
When can I drop my child off at school?
Parents choosing ½ day programs will be allowed to drop off their child up to 10 minutes before or after their child’s session is scheduled to begin. Children will need to arrive in time to be prepared for instructional time to begin at 8 a.m. (morning programs) and 12 p.m. (afternoon programs). Early Drop Off will begin at 7 a.m., and Extended Day will continue until 5:30 p.m. Parents of children in the All Day program can drop off their children anytime between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., and pick their children up anytime between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m.
When can I pick my child up from school?
Parents choosing ½ day programs will be allowed to pick-up their child from school up to 15 minutes before their child’s session is scheduled to end. Parents of children in the all day program can drop off their children anytime between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and pick their children up anytime between 3:15 and 5:30 p.m.
Is there be a summer program?
The Summer Knights Summer Camp is currently taking registrations for its first year. The camp will be held at the Central Catholic campus for grades preschool - 6th. Children will be in age appropriate classes with teachers and aides. Registration will be open from March 15 - May 31.
What can I expect from the curriculum and programming for my child?
The St. Francis Early Learning Academy uses a research-proven curriculum designed to ensure that your child develops the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in school and in life. Each classroom will have a trained and qualified lead teacher with a bachelor’s degree and an assistant teacher. Our curriculum and programming follow the four early childhood development domains: Physical, Social Emotional, Language, and Cognitive Development. We also add a very important fifth domain: Faith Formation – As a Catholic/Christian Academy we help children, even at their early age, begin to develop a respect and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
What will my child learn to prepare them academically?
In addition to the physical and social emotional activities and curriculum, teachers at St. Francis Early Learning Academy will focus on the development of key – age appropriate – language and cognitive skills to ensure your child is ahead of the game. This curriculum will be delivered through both theme based and project based instructional models to ensure the development of the whole child, with a special focus on these key skills: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, and Cultural Competency. The development of these skills will be integrated throughout the following curriculum areas:
Language/Literacy: Phonological awareness and skills, comprehension of books/text vocabulary, knowledge of the alphabet, beginning writing skills and knowledge and usage of print.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math): Number concepts and operations, Geometry and spacial relationships, measurement and comparisons, knowledge of patterns, scientific exploration and method, explore earth’s environment, characteristics of living things, use of tools, block play and construction, knowledge of self, explore people, changes through time and how they live, and Geographical knowledge.
Arts: Dramatic play through action and Language, Visual Arts such as Painting, Drawing and Sculpting, Musical Concepts, and Dance and Movement
What does a typical day look like for my child?
Your child will be welcomed into their classroom by their teacher, hang up their belongings, and find their name to check-in. The first part of Preschool time will be “Free Play”, consisting of 10 different centers open for the children to explore. These centers will let your child openly experience reading and writing materials, visual arts creative materials, blocks, dramatic play, number games, music/movement, science exploration, sensory play activities, and small motor fun. During this time, teachers will be able to monitor and help with these centers, and even work with children one-on-one to create art, practice writing their names, etc.
- The children will then transition into “Circle Time” where teachers interact with the children as a class through prayer time, reading, singing, movement, job helpers, calendar, and learning about each other. This is where children build their listening skills, attention span, self control, and sense of community.
- Snack, bathroom break, proper hand washing, and enjoy trying new foods while sharing with friends is next. When snack and social time are finished, it is time to get moving again. This is the time to get those large muscles firing with our large motor play time either in our specially designed large motor skills room or in one of our outdoor playgrounds.
- Finally, it is either time to get ready to go home or transition into lunch and the afternoon schedule. For those students on an afternoon ½ day schedule they will begin the afternoon with the same schedule as our morning students.
- For the “All Day” children, the afternoon will start with lunch and recess. The children will have story time and a 45 minute quiet time. As the children transition out of quiet time, they put away their belongings and have a snack. The afternoon is full of large motor play, crafts, enrichment activities from the morning, and learning games until parents pick-up their children.
The entire day is designed to contribute to your child’s social, emotional, physical, academic and spiritual growth.
Will my child feel emotionally safe, comfortable and loved?
The emotional well-being of your child is our first priority. We live by our philosophy; “Each day is centered around God’s command, “Love one another as I have loved you.” ~ John 15:12” We encourage an environment of Christ-centered behavior. Our teachers gently encourage, patiently help children with growth and development, and joyfully teach with kindness.
Who directs the program?
Betsy Tuholski, ([email protected]) who holds a Master's Degree in early childhood education, is the Director of the St. Francis Early Learning Academy. St. Francis facility is operated by the Lafayette Catholic School System in a manner that is consistent with their standards for high quality, faith integration, and academic excellence.
What is the student to teacher ratio?
Each classroom will have two teachers and will not exceed the following classroom ratios:
- 10 to 1 – Ten children for each teacher for Preschool
- 12 to 1 - Twelve children for each teacher for PreKindergarten
In many cases the ratio will be lower than this.
How will I know my child will be safe and secure?
All teachers, staff and volunteers will go through a thorough background check and extensive training to ensure your child is safe and secure. The building is being designed with safety and security in mind, complete with: secure entrances and exits, locking doors, security cameras, and a storm secure corridor. Children will be supervised by at least one adult at all times. The new facility will meet all fire and safety standards that are required for licensed early childhood care facilities. Additionally, the security team from the St. Elizabeth campus will regularly patrol the area along with LPD to ensure our continued safety.
Will transportation be available between the LCSS schools for my child’s siblings?
Transportation is not available at this time.
The Lafayette Catholic School System is evaluating the feasibility of offering this service. If you would be interested in taking advantage of a busing service that would go between schools/parishes for families with multiple drop-offs please complete this survey.
Will I need to provide lunch for my child, or can I order lunch to be provided for my child?
We have a hot lunch service that must be ordered a week in advance. $3/per lunch. You also may send a sack lunch for your child, if you choose.
What made the St. Francis facility possible?
In 2014 LCSS in collaboration with the six local Catholic parishes conducted a comprehensive study of the Catholic education landscape in Tippecanoe County. The evaluation included surveys of parents, demographic data, competitive analysis, and interviews. The review committee included the Pastors from all six parishes, all four current principals, representatives from the Diocese of Lafayette, including the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and the Trustees. Subsequently, additional research, feasibility studies, parent interviews, and surveys were completed. The summary of findings were as follows:
- Demand for high quality Preschool/PreK services are very high
- Tippecanoe County only meets 36% of the current demand
- Many families require expanded all-day options due to working schedules
- High quality Preschool is vital to ensuring children are ready for Kindergarten
- We are not able to meet the demand in our current facilities
- To adequately serve our Catholic community, we need 8 to 12 new classrooms
Following this analysis Preschool became a central component of the Vision 2030 campaign with an investment goal of $2.5M to $3M in infrastructure for Preschool. Since that time LCSS quietly raised capital to make this a reality. In July of 2019, Franciscan Health and the Sisters of St. Francis donated a 10,000 square foot building worth nearly $1 Million to be used for a new Preschool facility. LCSS combined this generous donation with funds that had been raised from alumni and friends of the school system to renovate the building and open the school in August of 2020.