LaunchPad dinner celebrates early learning educators

Jim Gill addresses the crowd. Photo provided.
News Release

WINONA LAKE — LaunchPad, the Kosciusko and Whitley County Child Care & Early Learning Coalition, held a night of celebration to honor childcare and early learning professionals at the Winona Heritage Room in Winona Lake Thursday evening, March 23.

Sponsored by United Way of Whitley and Kosciusko Counties and Silveus Insurance Group, the early educators were provided dinner and an opportunity to hear from musician and author, Jim Gill. Mr. Gill is a child development specialist from Chicago who shares his expertise on the benefits of music, play and literacy for young children.

Several early learning professionals were recognized for the recent achievements in attaining educational certificates or degrees, licensing or registering a new program, or improving quality in the state’s quality rating system, known as Paths to Quality.

Sherry Searles, director of LaunchPad for Kosciusko said, “We really wanted to honor the work that these folks are doing day-in and day-out. We are so thankful to those who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that young children receive a high-quality education. Research tells us that the first five years are essential in a child’s brain development, so where they spend their day matters.”

Whitley County’s LaunchPad director, Rachel Alexander said, “We are honored to recognize
our dedicated childcare providers who are shaping the lives of young children every day. They play such a vital role for families and it’s exciting to bring more awareness to their importance in our community.”

“One of the most important factors in a child’s development is their relationship with their
teacher,” said Darren Bickel, President of United Way.  “If the child feels they are safe, able to be curious about their world and confident in their ability to explore what they don’t understand – everything starts to fall into place.”