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The “Stepping Stones” Approach – Fostering Creativity & Self-Expression

The “Stepping Stones” Approach – Fostering Creativity & Self-Expression

by Rachel Heitzenrater - March 4, 2022

CANTON — “Stepping Stones” comes from the personal philosophy of Troy resident Cassi Brown who began her child care journey in 2001, offering children a “stepping stone” approach to learning, which is designed to foster creativity and self-expression.

The journey started early in Brown’s career, she saw the opportunity of a lifetime, becoming owner and director of an early learning center.
“I have my degree in early childhood education and my PA Director’s credentials,” said Brown, who noted she has always loved working with children.

She was able to combine two previous Canton Child Care centers (including the one she was director for) into one and named it Stepping Stones Child Care and moved to South Washington Street to call home, renting from Western Alliance.

“Where our playground is now, is where they used to pull in the ambulances,” said Brown.

Fast forward a few years, Brown bought the current building on South Washington Street from Western Alliance.

Brown’s husband, Jamie, owner of JB Construction, worked very hard to renovate the building into a vibrant early learning center that the parents and students see today. Stepping Stones consists of three classrooms divided by age: infants and toddlers, preschool, and the school-age.

Stepping Stones is a STAR 4 (of 4) accredited of the Keystone STARS, Pennsylvania’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. STARS stands for Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources and Support. Keystone STARS is a responsive system to improve, support, and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania.

Keystone STARS has four primary goals:
• To improve the quality of early care and education;
• To support early care and education providers in meeting their quality improvement goals;
• To recognize programs for continuous quality improvement and meeting higher quality standards; and
• To provide families a way to choose a quality early care and education program.

When it comes to early childhood education, Brown says it’s more important to have quality, rather than quantity. That’s why she has lower teacher-to-student class sizes.

“Quality with a ‘Star Four’ (rating), that is what it is all about. It’s about quality education.”

Aside from herself, Brown’s staff consists of three head teachers who hold their own degrees and assistant group supervisors.

“Finding teachers that have the same philosophy and mesh well together, like I have, it’s hard to find,” said Brown. “I really treasure my teachers.”

Routine is an important aspect to how Stepping Stones functions. Each classroom has its own daily routine for students, which could range from Child Adult Care Food Program accredited meals, age-appropriate lesson plans, outdoor time and fun while learning in a creative setting.

The students also participate in fun activities around the Canton community and celebrate regular holidays. At the end of the school year, Brown says a graduating class to kindergarten is celebrated.

“If a child is happy, the parents are going to be happy, then I am happy,” said Brown.

Getting to know each and every student is a goal of the faculty of Stepping Stones.

“We even know the names of pets, we also know what they call their grandparents. That, to me, is what our job is about, when the kids and the families come in here and parents can leave and go to work comfortably and not worry about their child’s safety,” said Brown.

The future possibilities are endless with Brown and Stepping Stones Child Care. Brown has goals that hopefully will come to fruition further in future.

“I would love to (eventually) have a bigger building,” said Brown, “But right now, I am comfortable with the numbers we have.”

Stepping Stones always takes applications for potential students, however, a wait list is possible.

Stepping Stones is located at 75 South Washington Street in Canton. For more information or to schedule a meeting with Brown for possible enrollment, call 570-673-4002.

The mission of Stepping Stones Child Care is At Stepping Stones Child Care, we are committed to providing a nurturing, secure and educationally sound environment. All Children will have the opportunity to grow and develop in an individually appropriate environment. Our creative curriculum gives our children the opportunity to bloom into responsible, considerate and contributing members of society.

Credits:

Writing: Rachel Heitzenrater

Produced by Vogt Media

 
 
 
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