By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator  

There is new life in the old rectory at St. Thomas More Church and School in Baton Rouge.  

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On Thursday, Sept. 12, Bishop Michael Duca, Father Michael Allelo and Amy Moran, director of the Early Learning Center, cut the ribbon on the center. Photos by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  

 

Former offices are now filled with cribs, changing tables and nap mats. This is the new Early Learning Center at St. Thomas More School, and staff members are just as excited as parents to see the idea become a reality. 

Director Amy Moran had operated the pre-school program at STM while renovations, which took about one year to complete, were underway at the former rectory, located across the street from the school.  

“When I hired my staff a year ago and told them what was happening, they were so excited, and they kept that excitement for me sometimes,” said Moran. “You know, sometimes this project wasn’t easy but they kept me excited.” 

With 11 years of early childhood education and classroom experience, Moran knew what was needed to make the center, which offers care for children ages 12 weeks to 2 years old, a success even though she had to work with an already established footprint from the rectory. With support from St. Thomas More pastor Father Michael Alello, Moran said she took “the reins” and was able to design each of the center’s six rooms.  

Another big challenge was providing quality care and meeting state and federal requirements. Moran said the state requires a ratio of one adult per six infants with a graduated rate of more children per adult as children get older; however, she keeps her infant to adult ratio at 4 to 1.  

“Child care is one of the most regulated industries anywhere,” she said. “So we wanted to make sure we’re not only meeting those regulations but we’re exceeding those regulations. So, we know that we’re doing what the law requires but how can we do it better and how can we incorporate the church into what we’re doing.”  

Such high standards mean high demand for Moran and her staff of 15. Enrollment is currently at 50 and there is a waiting list. Many of the children have siblings at the school.  

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John Paul Fontenot, 2, enjoys a snack on the steps of the new Early Learning Center at St. Thomas More Church and School in Baton Rouge. 

 

STM principal Brian Moscona has a one-year-old son, Dominic, in the ELC with daughter Maria, 3, in pre-school and oldest son Anthony, 5, in “the big school.”  

“We have the youngest Catholics in our community being pushed around in buggies during the day and so the older kids run over and get to smile at them and see the future of our school and our parish on a daily basis,” said Moscona. “And, I think for families such as myself, to have all of our kids in one place and also to be in a Catholic environment from birth through eighth grade is really a blessing.” 

“The center gives our parents the opportunity to drop off all their kids in one stop,” said Father Alello. “Parents know that their kids are getting the same faith formation and education from their earliest days through eighth grade, so it’s exciting for us, it’s exciting for our parents and it’s such a need.”  

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Enrollment at the center is currently at 50 and there is a waiting list. Many of the children have siblings at the school. STM principal Brian Moscona has a one-year-old son, Dominic, in the ELC with daughter, Maria, 3, in pre-school and oldest son Anthony, 5, in “the big school.”

 

“It’s always nice to see our schools growing and also reaching out to minister to a whole number of children that we haven’t been able to reach before which is good for the children and also a big help for families,” said Bishop Michael G. Duca. “I’m so glad to see this new energy at St. Thomas More.”  

The ELC opened Aug. 12 and Moran said it has been a whirlwind of activity, with an open house and getting settled into a schedule. But now she can sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labor.  

Enrollment at the center is currently at 50 and there is a waiting list. Many of the children have siblings at the school. STM principal Brian Moscona has a one-year-old son, Dominic, in the ELC with daughter Maria, 3, in pre-school and oldest son Anthony, 5, in “the big school.”  

On Thursday, Sept. 12, Bishop Duca, Father Allelo and Moran cut the ribbon on the Early Learning Center and the bishop blessed the building. 

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After the ribbon cutting the bishop blessed the building.