Building to Answer the Church's Need
Early childhood ministries are booming in WELS, and it’s no wonder. A WELS preschool or early childhood learning center can provide the experiences, environment, and relationships parents seek for their young children.
But it’s not only education. It’s ministry. “We get to teach these children about Jesus’ love for them,” says Jennifer Mehlberg ’07, our lead instructor at the MLC Early Childhood Learning Center. “We get to show their parents how to start praying and ways to read Bible stories with their children. We build these relationships and then invite them to our church to learn more about Christ's saving work for us. What a great opportunity!”
Every year Martin Luther College graduates a number of qualified teachers to fill the teacher and director calls in the 403 preschools of the synod, but more teachers are needed. WELS Conference of Presidents has asked MLC to increase our number of ECE graduates.
As we attempt to do that, we find that the MLC Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC), where our students do some of their clinical work, falls short. Only some seniors can student teach at our center. No juniors can get their clinical experience at our center. And we can enroll no infants and toddlers in our current facility, although ECE licensure requires infant and toddler experiences.
A new Early Childhood Learning Center at MLC is essential for this synod ministry. Because renovation of the present facility would be too costly, the MLC Governing Board authorized the construction of a new center, with expenditures capped at $2.8 million. Korb Tredo Architects has shared concept designs for a 15,500-square-foot center. The tentative timeline calls for demolition of the current building and the start of new construction in summer 2012.
The prospects for this center are vast and exciting! It would allow us to provide the finest training, modeling, and educational leadership possible for this growing WELS ministry.
We could ...
- meet the professional education needs of our ECE majors.
- enroll infants and toddlers in addition to 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.
- reach out even more to the families of our community.
- increase professionalism across the synod by unlicensed teachers earn their degrees and licenses.
- offer continuing education for ECE teachers-through live and archived video, podcasts, and webinars.
- model excellence in early childhood education for WELS congregations.
Please pray for our efforts, that we might prepare enough qualified teachers to meet the needs of the church-sharing the gospel and providing the highest quality education to the littlest souls in our communities.
Planned Early Childhood Learning Center Features
- Classrooms for infants and toddlers, as well as 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds: MLC student teachers can get all facets of their training in one high-quality facility. Families can bring all their children to one safe place. Siblings can see each other throughout the day. Children can transition easily from room to room, teacher to teacher, as they grow.
- Dedicated family space: Like a church gathering space, this will be a place for informal conversation, parent to teacher and parent to parent. The coffee pot will be on.
- Observation room/learning space for parents, college students, and visitors: We can teach how to teach as students watch real children in real classrooms. We also can use this video technology for distance learning: webinars, online courses, and simple demonstrations.
- Onsite college classroom: College students and teachers from all over the synod can walk from the college classroom to one of the children’s rooms, linking theory and application in real time.
You can click here and download an informational brochure about the new Early Childhood Learning Center and early childhood education in WELS.