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First Step Preschool Transforms Courtyard to Learning Lab Thanks to Lowe's Partnership

First Step Preschool’s outdoor courtyard was transformed into a wonderful learning lab for students thanks to the Lowe’s Home Improvement Hero’s Grant.

The school received $2,500 for the project, and team members from Strongsville Lowe’s, First Step PTA members, and school staff volunteered their time to transform the space.

“As a PCSD graduate, First Step Preschool Principal, and PTA Member, I am beyond honored that my building won this grant,” Lara Svihlik expressed. “Preschoolers need to be outside and off screens. My PTA and Lowe's made this possible by creating a new courtyard, which is now more conducive to hands-on learning. Our board-adopted curriculum implements nature, science, and motor, and all of my preschoolers can now access this courtyard equitably.”

Volunteers leveled the sidewalk, laid over 100 bags of mulch, installed flower beds and picnic tables, created a bird feeder, and set up a shed in the outdoor space to make sure it was accessible for all students to learn and grow. 

“I 100% owe the Lowe's Hero Project Award to First Step Preschool's PTA President, Antoinette Goins,” she shared. “My supportive PCSD leadership and maintenance team gave us the green light, and Lowe's came in and completed this all in just one day. Aaron Wade, Strongsville Lowe's Store Manager, and his ten volunteers displayed hard work, compassion, and professionalism, which is admirable. My preschoolers and staff deserve this outdoor learning space.”

Wade said every year the store gets the opportunity to do a Hero’s Project for the community.

“This is our 100th year, so we got to do a couple of different projects this year,” he shared. “First Step’s PTA president came into the store and was looking for a donation for this project, but when we heard about the project, we wanted to immediately work on it.”

There are over 250 preschool students with and without disabilities and 50 staff members at Pleasantview School.

“First Step Preschool is the first place that many of our Parma, Parma Heights, and Seven Hills students ages 3-5 attend and quite often literally take their ‘first steps’,” Svihlik described. “PTA and Lowe's Partnership made the focal point of our building a place where our preschoolers can get messy, play in the dirt, release butterflies, take care of plants, and one another. We get one shot in Early Childhood before that window closes, and I am grateful that my students will be able to spend time outside growing and learning together at First Step Preschool.”

She further shared that there have been many other positive changes at the building to help PCSD’s littlest learners become life-long learners.

Some of those improvements include the addition of a full-time art teacher, an increase of itinerant services to provide more outreach and support with community preschools, a STEM Lab, pods grouped by feeder schools to provide a continuum of services for smooth kindergarten transitions, board-adopted creative curriculum, and Second Step social-emotional implementation.

Thank you, Lowe’s and First Step PTA, for this wonderful partnership!

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