When Elizabeth Goff became school leader of the Day Early Learning at Fort Harrison center, she brought her extensive knowledge of the pre-K space and best practices for delivering high-quality education to the youngest Hoosiers.
June marks Goff’s first anniversary in the role, where she’s focused on creating a school culture centered on strong relationships with students and parents. Not only is Goff the school leader, but she also is a “School Mom” at the Fort Harrison location. Her 8-month-old son, Beckett, is a student in the infant room.
Facilitating opportunities for parents to engage with their child’s learning is central to the purpose of the center, Goff said. Her first year has been rewarding and busy, from family engagement events to celebrating the Week of the Young Child and creating STEM bins for teachers to blend into their classrooms.
“Being a parent now, I know how big that connection piece is. You want a sense of security going into a program where your whole world is being dropped off, making family engagement so important,” Goff said. “A sense of belonging and a sense of community — that is our mission at Early Learning Indiana. Preparing our kids for kindergarten and beyond and knowing our families the minute they walk in the door.”
Before coming to Early Learning Indiana, Goff served as the preschool coordinator for Mount Vernon School Corporation. She also previously worked as a Paths to QUALITYTM coach, where she evaluated preschools and provided guidance on ways they could boost the quality of their instruction. Her background in knowing what factors create an environment for the best preschool instruction made the Fort Harrison location an easy choice when choosing an early learning experience for her son.
“Going in with a Paths to QUALITY background, I knew what I wanted the expectation to be. When I came in and saw that happening, it was much easier to make Day Early Learning where we were going to start out. It’s nice to work alongside his teachers and see him meet milestones along the way.”
The main reason she transitioned from the K-12 school setting in Mount Vernon to Day Early Learning was a desire to work with the youngest learners and set a foundation for learning as early as infancy. Serving children as young as 6 weeks allows Day Early Learning to instill a passion for learning as they grow into toddlers, whereas some preschools don’t admit students until age 3. When she learned about the job, she knew it was a place where she could make a difference and serve families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
Standalone early learning programs create an environment where the focus is genuinely on early childhood education and helping the most vulnerable and youngest learners, Goff said.
“The investment Early Learning Indiana puts into their programs, their centers and their employees are really unmatched to any program where I’ve worked,” Goff said. “Coming to a standalone preschool where they have a mission and stick to their mission, it is just eye-opening. This is how you support early childhood education.”