PHILIPSBURG — She’s been on the staff at the Moshannon Valley YMCA in Philipsburg for years, but Katie Meersand was promoted to the role of Child Care Director just last month.
The Philipsburg native graduated from Philipsburg-Osceola High School and then attended and graduated from Penn State’s University Park campus. From there, she worked at the State College YMCA and had a long term substitute teaching position at West Branch Elementary before getting the job at the Mo Valley YMCA.
“I enjoy helping the families and the kids,” Meersand said.
Meersand’s main duties deal with the YMCA’s Early Learning Program, as well as its Before and After School Program.
The Early Learning Program operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and divides kids between a younger group (ages 2-3) and an older group (ages three to kindergarten).
“We have a lead teacher in each classroom, a main assistant and three other assistants that help among the classrooms,” Meersand said.
Kids will do various activities at learning centers until 9 a.m., at which point “school-based learning” takes place from that time until 3 p.m. During that school-based learning time, they will also do activities in the gymnasium or the nearby park.
Meersand stressed the program is “not a daycare,” but rather a learning opportunity for children before they start actual school.
“The older classroom focuses on preparing kids for kindergarten,” Meersand said. “Teachers in the older classroom meet with actual kindergarten teachers to let them know what they’ll be expecting. They also have PA standards books and they base their lesson plans off of those standards.”
The younger classroom is more focused on personal interaction and making sure the kids are smiling while having a great time interacting with the fellow children.
“It’s very adventure-based,” Meersand said.
However with one younger and one older preschool classroom, Meersand said they’re at the point where they need to expand.
“I’m opening a third classroom to accommodate everyone and to eliminate the wait list,” Meersand said.
The Before and After School Program operates at Philipsburg Elementary and Osceola Mills Elementary from 6-8:15 a.m. and from 3:30-6 p.m.
“The after school program has been going on for many years,” Meersand said.
Right now there are about 50 children who regularly participate from ages kindergarten through sixth grade. Children are bused to OME before school and then to PE after school.
“You do not have to be a Y member to do either of these programs,” Meersand said.
Those interested can contact the YMCA at 342-0889.