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Early Learning Center

EARLY LEARNING CENTER is a fully-licensed, nationally-accredited lab school for young children.


Gateway's Early Learning Center (ELC) is a full-day pre-school that serves children ages 3 to 5 daily from 7:30am to 5:30pm. Tuition includes breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack, a choice of three instructional models, enrichment programs, and parent resources.

The ELC curriculum is based upon the concept that each child is an individual and should be able to develop at his or her own pace, while providing hands-on sensory experiences to encourage children to think, analyze problems, and arrive at logical conclusions based on their own experience. The curriculum is centered around the interests, needs, and abilities of the individual child.

The ELC provides a stimulating learning environment through three classroom models: Child Development, Modified Montessori, and Creative Curriculum.


The ELC opened in March 1983 through the great efforts of Dr. Earnestine Kirkland and Susan Logston. The primary function of the ELC was to provide a training site for preschool teachers and quality childcare for the community. It was the aim of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) department to integrate theoretical concepts with practical applications for those enrolled in the ECE Program. Gateway Community College students in Early Childhood Education, Human Services, Psychology, Nursing and other programs would also have the opportunity to use the Center as a learning resource in child development.

Early Learning Center

Early Learning Center


The Early Learning Center (ELC) is a childcare program for children ages three to five that is fully licensed and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The primary function of the Early Learning Center is to provide an exemplary training site for prospective preschool teachers and students enrolled in Social Sciences, while offering quality childcare for the community.  Through guided involvement in Center operations, students are more able to be successful integrating theoretical preparation with practical application. Gateway Community College students in the areas of Human Services, Early Childhood Education, Psychology, Nursing, as well as Nutrition and Dietetics programs will have the opportunity to use the Center as a learning resource in child development. The staff provides a stimulating learning environment through three curriculum models: Child Development, Modified Montessori, and Diversified Creative Curriculum. Through guided involvement in ELC operations, students are more successful integrating theoretical preparation with practical application.



Our program is centered upon the concept that each child is an individual and should be allowed to grow and develop at his/her own pace. Children learn best by participating in first-hand sensory experiences. Therefore, our curriculum encourages children to think, analyze problems, and arrive at logical conclusions. Our curriculum is centered around the strengths, interests, abilities, and needs of the children. We believe children learn best through play and discovery.

Our program is an inclusive model, serving children with a variety of needs. Therefore, we are committed to serving children with special and typical needs. The ELC adheres to ADA policies.

Instructional Models

Child Development    This program focuses on the development of the whole child. The classroom environment is planned to allow opportunities for exploration and discovery. Learning through play, central themes, and developmentally appropriate activities is provided in a child-centered classroom.

Modified Montessori    This curriculum model is based on the theory that sensory-cognitive learning influences affective development. This approach is individualized and the child learns about the world around him or her by observing, comparing, classifying, and reasoning through the use of self-correcting, didactic Montessori materials.

Diversified Creative Curriculum    This curriculum is comprehensive in providing the framework for a developmentally appropriate program for preschoolers. The beliefs and theories that guide curriculum development and implementation include an understanding of how children develop physically, socio-emotionally, and intellectually. The teachers are adaptable and flexible.

Weekly Fees (subject to change)

  • Community: $275
  • Full-time Students: $170
  • New Haven residents: Sliding fee scale

To be eligible for the student rates, students must be enrolled in Gateway Community College for a minimum of 3 credits. New Haven families may apply for the School Readiness Grant Sliding Fee Scale. Breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack are provided.

Early Learning Center Staff

Sarah Chambers


(203) 285- 2132

Linda Alston          

Child Development

(203) 285-2133

Stacey Empric

Child Development

(203) 285-2133 

Leasa Torelli    

Modified Montessori

(203) 285-2134

Stella Okparanta

Modified Montessori

(203) 285-2134

Annmarie Rosario

Diversified Creative Curriculum

(203) 285-2135

Mary Palermo 


(203) 285-2131



Sarah Chambers, Director
(203) 285-2130


  • Monday - Friday
  • 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m