Youngstown State brings Head Start program to university

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Most Youngstown State University students are in their late teens or early 20s, but now, the university is adding a new program to reach children under the age of 5.

YSU has partnered with Alta to bring the Learning Center Model Classroom — a full-day preschool program — to Beeghly Hall.

Alta has operated the Head Start program in Youngstown and Mahoning County for the past 14 months.

“Clearly, it benefits the Head Start side, because it provides a classroom and opportunity to attend that class. From the YSU side, it’s strong as well, because it enhances our educational opportunities,” said Joe Mosca, dean of YSU’s Bitonte College of Health and Human Services.

The Model Classroom will be a real-life, hands-on training experience for YSU students, benefiting those in nursing, social work and the early childhood programs, according to Dr. Charles Howell, dean of the Beeghly College of Education.

“You don’t learn by sitting in a college classroom. You learn by being with the children, interacting with them, seeing how teachers model best practices,” he said. “You see it in action. You do it in action. That’s how you learn.”

At the same time, children are also learning. The preschool program offers kids up to the age of 5 a head start in education, as well as provides health and nutrition services for families.

“It’s not just academic learning,” said Alta Care Group CEO Joe Shorokey. “We believe sometimes there is way too much focus on the academic portion of preschool development. Social, emotional learning is critical, and we know that kids can’t learn until they can behave, follow directions and listen appropriately and share.”