Midland College celebrated the grand opening of the new Pre-K Academy and Center for Teaching Excellence on September 12, 2023. The new two-story, 60,000-square-foot Pre-K Academy and Center for Teaching Excellence is located across from Chapparal Center.
Scharbauer Foundation and the Permian Strategic Partnership provided lead gifts of $10 million. In addition Abell-Hanger Foundation, Henry Foundation, Midland College Foundation, Inc., The Beal Foundation and Warren Charitable Foundation supported the project through gifts of $1 million or more each. Other contributions toward this $30-plus million building were provided by other private foundations, individuals, families and businesses in the community, according to the news release.
“This project is another great example of a public/private collaboration focused on addressing a community need,” Grant Billingsley, president and CEO of Scharbauer Foundation, stated in the press release. “Scharbauer Foundation is proud to work with Midland College and our generous philanthropic partners to help students and families succeed.”
Midland College President Damon Kennedy added, “We consider it a privilege to partner with other Permian Basin organizations to help find a solution to the shortage of high-quality early childhood education and the shortage of teachers.”
In August 2019, Midland College and Midland ISD partnered to start the Midland College pre-K in-district charter school with 68 students, the press release states.
Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the academy was a success, so much so that community leaders approached Midland College officials about expanding the capacity.
“The Midland College Pre-K Academy partnership between Midland College and Midland ISD allows us to merge our resources and build upon a pillar of our strategic plan to enhance the student experience by creating a unique learning environment that will set a new standard for early education in our region,” Stephanie Howard, MISD superintendent, said in the press release. “We are excited for the academy to be able to offer five 3-year-old classes this year for a total of 85 seats and five 4-year-old classes for a total of 100 seats. This increase of 51 and 66 seats respectively from last year will allow us to serve even more of Midland’s youngest learners. Currently, we are only able to serve 5% of eligible 3-year-old students in Midland, and we look forward to the future when even more seats are made available.”
The first floor of the new academy, according to the college, includes classrooms, cafeteria and other areas for pre-school students. The second floor contains classrooms and offices for the College’s Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Early Childhood Education and Associate of Arts in Teaching programs.
The press release says that Midland College students who complete the baccalaureate-level program in Early Childhood Education and obtain the Texas Teacher Certification EC-3 will fill a critical gap in Midland ISD’s and the surrounding area’s teaching pipelines.
“This initiative creates a model for combined teacher preparation and early childhood education, two areas of great need in our region and priorities for the PSP,” Tracee Bentley, president and CEO of Permian Strategic Partnership, said. “This is a first of its kind program at a community college, and we have the opportunity to set the standard for others in our region and beyond. The Permian Strategic Partnership is honored to partner with Midland College and all the funding partners who have helped to make this vision a reality.”
Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram
Photography: Leiken Finch courtesy of Midland College