Impact Learning: Fisher

Fostering a Life-long Love of Education

At Fisher Early Learning Center (Fisher), teachers have been tasked with fostering a love of learning among the University of Denver’s (DU) youngest scholars. Fisher, an infant through preschool early learning center, falls under the umbrella of the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and offers hands-on learning experiences for our graduate students in an atmosphere where children can thrive.

Over the past year, Fisher was fortunate to hire Jill Pasion as its curriculum and instruction specialist to implement and improve its new curriculum.

“Pasion arrived at Fisher with extensive knowledge of early childhood curriculum and played an integral role in how Fisher continues to refine its curriculum to meet the needs of infants, toddlers and preschoolers,” said Hema Visweswaraiah, director of Fisher.

Pasion implemented a primary caregiving system for infants and toddlers, supporting project-based learning in preschool and adopting the Connect4Learning (C4L) curriculum, authored by Drs. Doug Clements and Julie Sarama, co-directors of MCE’s Marsico Institute. C4L was developed through funding from the National Science Foundation and draws on interdisciplinary connections between mathematics, science, literacy and social emotional learning. 

“When Fisher temporarily closed in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this solid curricular foundation proved to be critical as teachers and staff transitioned to online learning,” said Visweswaraiah.

During the early weeks of the pandemic, teachers focused on one-on-one connections and supported families in their child’s development. They provided individual story times, conducted socially-distanced home visits and had frequent conversations with parents to address families’ individual needs. 

In addition, the center kept classroom communities connected, while adding elements of developmentally appropriate learning activities. Daily circle times were held, along with small groups and clubs, which allowed teachers to provide children with more intimate learning opportunities. After nine weeks of remote learning, Fisher began a process of gradual and safe reopening.

According to Visweswaraiah, “The transition back to school was smoother and more successful than anticipated.”

These unprecedented efforts of Fisher staff, parents and students kept everyone engaged and connected, creating a tighter-knit community of support. 

The center began a new school year at full capacity in July. This year, Fisher looks forward to renovating both the infant and toddler playgrounds, putting its curriculum in practice through play. Through collaboration with Didier Design Studio, DU and Fisher have designed a space inclusive of various terrains and engaging components to enhance outdoor motor and sensory play. 

Fisher will expand the current infant play area to nearly three times its size, allowing ample space for infants and young toddlers to explore and grow. Opportunities for crawling, climbing, hanging, sand and water play are just a few of the new updates. The toddler playground will also see a significant makeover to establish a nature inspired play area that will challenge learners to utilize their imaginations and skills as they engage in dramatic play and sensory and motor experiences. Both playground renovations are sure to amaze and excite DU’s youngest scholars.

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