The Guardian Angels Early Learning Center at SS. Robert & William School in Euclid provides a nurturing environment focusing on faith, knowledge, skills and behaviors that are the foundations for future academic success.
On Oct. 2, the feast of the guardian angels, in a packed Parish Center, Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries celebrated Mass for students, staff, parents and grandparents of children enrolled in SS. Robert & William Parish’s Guardian Angels Early Learning Center. Following Mass, 57 students – ages 3 months to 5 years old -- entertained guests with songs and dancing, concluding with the whole group singing “Angels Watching Over Me.”
The event is the culmination of a vision created by the leadership team. Father John Betters, SS. Robert & William pastor, and co-principals Martha Dodd and Meg Cosgriff, saw a need for quality child care in the Euclid community. The team brainstormed how to expand their already established four-star preschool to include child care for the youngest learners. They did not have to look far, as the Merici Center, the former convent of the Ursuline Sisters who founded St. William School in 1947, was available and was determined to be the perfect space. Extensive renovation occurred during the summer to repurpose the solid, stone building into offices, classrooms and an atrium for the Good Shepherd Program.
On hand for the ribbon-cutting were two Ursuline sisters who had lived in the convent and taught in the school. Sister Kathleen Ogrin, formerly Sister St. Maxim, taught first grade at St. William School before establishing the kindergarten program there. Young children are her passion and she said she was thrilled to see her former home serving so many children. Sister Robert Goebel, formerly Sister Aquinas, served as principal during the late 1970s. She, too, said she was excited to attend the ceremony and give her blessing to the new center.
On Oct. 7, Bishop Nelson Perez toured this section of SS. Robert & William when he visited the school for the first time. The students were anxious to show off their new classrooms, books and snack area and even performed their song from the ribbon-cutting for him. In the area for Baby Angels, for those 6 weeks through 18 months, a baby named Kennedy was captivated by the bishop. She smiled and cooed as he held her for a blessing.
“What a great way begin a child – a baby’s -- life when deciding on early care,” said Bishop Perez. He reflected that parents made choice of selecting a Catholic facility full of love and faith. Also, he applauded the hard work of the leadership team not just in renovating the facility, but in forming the daily routine, to integrate faith-based teaching and prayer into the earliest time of a child’s formation.
GAELC is rooted in the Catholic tradition and provides both academic and child care programs for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. GAELC has five rooms dedicated to age-appropriate care and education. There are rooms for Baby Angels (6 weeks to 18 months); Toddler Angels (12-36 months); Wee Angels (3-year-old full- or half-day programs); Little Angels (4-year-old half-day program) and Junior Angels (4- and 5-year-old full-day program). All teachers have college degrees and share a deep love of nurturing children.
Since opening its doors on Sept. 3, GAELC enrollment has increased by 11 students and tours are being scheduled daily with prospective families.
The staff meets every morning at 7 a.m. to begin the day together in prayer. Each day they thank God for the foundation built by the Ursulines and ask the guardian angels to guide and protect their work.
Staff members said a double rainbow spotted over the building on a recent Saturday was a sign that God is blessing the work being done at the facility.
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