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Sherry S. Kijowski
J. Ralph McIlvaine Early Childhood Center
Caesar Rodney School District
Magnolia, Delaware
sherry.kijowski@cr.k12.de.us

A passionate advocate of Early Childhood Education and 21st century skills, Principal Sherry S. Kijowski of the J. Ralph McIlvaine Early Childhood Center ensures her students get a world class education during their very first year of school.  As the first principal of the center which opened in 2009, Kijowski was responsible for the monumental tasks of overseeing construction, merging five different area kindergartens, and developing a school culture from the ground up.  Inheriting a pre-existing prekindergarten program, Kijowski overhauled everything from curriculum and instructional practices to parent involvement guidelines and special needs programs to transform it into a competitive program with a long waiting list.  In 2012, the center was selected as the first school in the state to implement a Chinese Dual Language Immersion Program.  Crafting a lottery system, Chinese language curriculum, and setting up community and housing support for two Chinese language teachers from another country, Kijowski and her team offered the first early childhood program in Mandarin to one hundred kindergarten students.  Partnerships with parents and the University of Delaware’s Confucius Institute expanded Asian cultural experiences school-wide, and enabled development of a day camp to support summer language instruction.  The center, which serves 595 prekindergarten and kindergarten students, has become a state model, recognized in 2013 with the Lt. Governor’s Parent Partnership Award.  Kijowski’s degrees include a B.S.E. in Elementary Education from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in Educational Leadership and Ed. D. in Education from the University of Delaware.