Meet HighScope Hero
Meet HighScope Hero
Bringing the HighScope Approach to a Community in Need
When HighScope Hero Isabela Robinson moved from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Kalamazoo, Michigan, 12 years ago, she had difficulties finding quality childcare in her neighborhood. So, in 2010, Isabela, a mother of two, decided to open a childcare center in her home to provide early childhood education services for her own children, as well as to support other families in her community.
“After the first few weeks, I discovered that I needed to know more about this industry and that I wanted to do more for my community. If you are really interested in doing something well, you need to study and learn,” says Isabela, who holds both a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (ECE) and a master’s degree in public administration from Ashford University, an online college based in San Diego.
Isabela conducted extensive research, reviewing a variety of ECE options and philosophies over a period of two years. This research led her to the HighScope Curriculum and ultimately inspired her to establish the Pre-K International Child Care Center in Kalamazoo, which opened its doors in 2013. “I knew that HighScope’s research-based curriculum would offer the best support to the children and families of our community,” says Isabela.
As a progressive ECE school, the Pre-K International Center is having a positive and profound impact on low-income families (including those experiencing homelessness), families in low-income housing, and multiethnic families. Isabela’s children also attended the Center. “We are the only early childhood center in the eastside neighborhood,” explains Isabela, who serves as the center’s director.
Following HighScope’s principles and its overall educational philosophy, Isabela and her team of HighScope-trained educators focus on providing stimulating early care and education to promote children’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Isabela and her staff strive to create a well-rounded learning environment with fun and interactive materials that reflect the rich heritage of students’ cultures, including dolls, a Mexican market, African drums, and a wide selection of books. According to Isabela, “Every fall we make home visits to our families and, based on the interactions as well as feedback from families, we build the class with strong cultural elements that are relevant to the children.”
The center’s classroom walls are also decorated with abstract and colorful murals (many painted by parents) depicting whimsical scenes of nature. The center’s curriculum offers a morning meeting time in English focused on kindergarten readiness, and an afternoon dance time in Spanish with an emphasis on diversity and community understanding.
Isabela and her team go the extra mile to accommodate the unique needs of their families by offering a flexible daily learning environment. Often, you might see Isabela driving the center’s bus to pick up and transport students from around the county to the school.
The HighScope training and philosophy continue to be Isabela’s guiding force. “I haven’t missed a HighScope conference since 2014,” says Isabela. “My staff is given lots of training and support on the curriculum, especially around conflict resolution. I also send my teachers to HighScope’s Demonstration Preschool in Ypsilanti to observe and learn.”
Isabela also stays active in the ECE community. For the past five years, she has served on the boards of Childcare Resources of Southwest Michigan and Habitat for Humanity. She says of her new status as a HighScope Hero, “It is such an honor to be nominated as a HighScope Hero. I still can’t believe it.”