Children Thrive At The Early Learning Center

Learn more about the L. Daniel Hutto Early Learning Center at FSDB, as shared by Gail Strassel, program director. This month's teacher spotlight features Brooke Stanfield, who works in the ELC (see separate feature).


Two teachers sit on the floor and work with two blind children.

What is the Montessori Method?


The Early Learning Center offers a Montessori program for young children three to five years old who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired.


The Montessori method is a philosophy of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 20th century. Classic Montessori classrooms feature self-directed activities, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. Children make creative, autonomous choices in their learning processes, and they work solo or collaboratively in groups to learn through discovery. They are led to ask questions, to problem solve, to explore, and to investigate.


Montessori classrooms are carefully prepared environments designed to meet the needs of students. Dr. Montessori discovered that experiential learning in this type of class led to a deeper understanding of language, mathematics, science, music, social interactions, and more. Every material in a Montessori classroom supports an aspect of child development, creating a match between the child's natural interests and the available activities.


Children learn through their own experience and at their own pace during long periods of uninterrupted work time, allowing them to focus and engage in meaningful interactions. This approach takes advantage of a child's natural desire to learn, think, and act independently. The Montessori experience nurtures a joy for learning that prepares children for years to come!


ELC deaf/hard of hearing students sit around table and work independently.

What is unique about the Early Learning Center?


Our ELC learning communities are designed for students who are deaf or blind and enable each child to bring his or her individual strengths and abilities to the classroom. We believe that they are children first. They have a deep and abiding curiosity, and each child is unique—bringing his or her skills, talents, and experiences to the ELC.


The ELC's new "home" in the Gore Hall Annex provides the ideal environment for our Montessori classrooms. The children have a large and attractive space allowing them the freedom to move, explore, learn, and build their independence.