Celebrating 25 Years of Educating and Caring for Young Children.

The Young SchoolSM Marks 20 Years in Columbia


By Medina Roshan, mroshan@patuxent.com

Reprinted from Howard County Times

Plans for the first, separate stand-alone building at the Shoppes of Meadow Creek passed through Westminster’s Planning and Zoning Commission last week and is set for construction.

Clad only in diapers, a group of toddlers, fresh off a watercolor painting activity at The Young SchoolSM, did what they do best -- crawled around, chewed on various toys, adding to the lively cacophony inside the Columbia school.

"We will get messy," school administrator Jessica Patton said, explaining that it's easier to have the toddlers in their diapers rather than clothing for art activities.

Getting messy is sometimes part of the job at The Young SchoolSM, where teachers encourage children -- just like the diapered painters -- to explore and pursue their curiosity.

Leaders at the school, which is marking its 20th year in the early education business, say the school's educational philosophies have helped it thrive and grow.

What began as a day care facility in 1987 has evolved into a chain of four early education and preschool centers, with two more centers slated to open in 2009.

One of The Young SchoolSM's two Columbia locations, on Guilford Road, earned accreditation from the Maryland State Department of Education this summer.

Josh Young, who owns The Young SchoolSM with his wife, JoAnn, said he hopes the accreditation will solidify the school's reputation and attract parents, who have come to expect a great deal more from their child-care providers than in decades past.

"These parents really do their homework," he said. "They really do shop for the best quality and the best programs for their children. We've become higher quality by answering that need."

Young also hopes to pursue accreditation for the school's other locations, he said, adding that the accreditation process took about two years and included a detailed evaluation of the center's curriculum, staff and operations.

After 20 years in the business, Young said he's watched the early childhood education field evolve. He and his staff have made changes at Young SchoolSM accordingly.

The Youngs -- JoAnn is a former elementary school teacher for Prince George's County Public Schools -- began their business in 1987, the same year they were married, by opening a child care facility on Red Branch Road, in east Columbia.

Josh Young said he and his wife opened the center in an effort to create quality child care with their own future family in mind. The Youngs' three children, two daughters and one son who are now young adults, all attended The Young SchoolSM.

The business evolved from a day care center to a center with differentiated programming for children between the ages of 8 weeks and 5 years old, including kindergarten.

The school separates the age groups into designated areas they've dubbed "cottages," which staff members say foster a more familiar, secure environment for the children.

The school adheres to the Reggio Emilia philosophy of teaching for preschoolers, which emphasizes student-led learning; and the Resources for Infant Educarers, or RIE, philosophy for infants and toddlers, which encourages freedom of exploration.

The Young SchoolSM locations include two in Columbia -- one on Guilford Road and one on Tamar Drive -- along with locations in Gambrills and Perry Hall. A Frederick location is under construction, and a Westminster facility and a third Howard County location also are in the works.

Angela Stewart, of Columbia, said the school's teaching philosophies played a major role in her decision to enroll her daughter, 8-month-old Morgan.

"We chose it because ... they believe in all the natural ways of children developing on their own," she said. "We've actually seen Morgan grow so much socially since she's been there."

Overall, Young said his goal is to foster "lifelong learners."

One way he gauges the school's success is by their graduates, most of whom, he said, have thrived academically after The Young SchoolSM. "We have kids that come back and work for us in the summer," he said.


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