Schuylkill County Celebrates Shining Stars!

Discover how Shining Stars are celebrated in Schuylkill County!

KS Shining Stars nominees SchuylkillOn April 26, 2012 in the Schuylkill County Court House in Pottsville, The Board of Commissioners recognized children through a Proclamation in recognition of the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) which was celebrated April 22nd thru April 28th

The Commissioners also recognized six of the seven children that were nominated as Schuylkill County’s Keystone Shining STARS.  These children were nominated as children who have attended a Keystone STARS 2, 3, or 4 quality early learning program and have reached their Promise to do achieve great greatness in their programs.     

Keystone STARS is a quality initiative program that promotes quality early learning through the early learning state standards to improve child outcomes.    

Stars families schuylkillIn celebration of Keystone STARS 10th Anniversary, children throughout Pennsylvania have been nominated as Keystone Shining STARS.  Schuylkill County has 20 quality early learning programs that participate in the Keystone STARS.  Seven children have been nominated as Schuylkill County’s Shining STARS. 

The seven nominees received certificates from the Board of Commissioners, and were invited to a recognition reception immediately following the Proclamation on April 26th.  Five of the seven children participated in the Continental breakfast.  At the reception the nominees received certificates from Senator Argall and Representative Michael Tobash and received a gift bag from LEARN.  The children were given the PA One Book, Stop Snoring, Bernard! by Zachariah O’Hora, as well as a STAR lapel pin provided by Child Development, Inc.   

The Key in Harrisburg celebrated 10 years by hosting a Fun-Day for the children in their families on Tuesday, May 8th.  After key speakers spoke at the celebratory event, the children and their families were invited to attend a fun-family day with passes to Whitaker’s Science Museum and the State Museum. 

Schuylkill County’s Nominees are:

Joshua T..  Josh was nominated by his mother, Kimberly T.  Josh currently attends Pine Grove Area Elementary School and is in the first grade.  Josh attended Dawn to Dusk (Keystone STARS 3) in Pine Grove.  His mother believes that Josh’s success in first grade is due to his foundation he received from Dawn to Dusk.  She credits his teachers Miss Kelly and Miss Tara who were “always supportive of his abilities and did an amazing job teaching him the necessary skills to succeed in his early school years.”

Lyla S.
attends Child Development, Head Start center in Fountain Springs (Keystone STARS 4).  Lyla was nominated by several people that include her therapists and Lynda Yordy, the Services Manager for Schuylkill IU#29.  All agree that Lyla is a “special” little girl because of her determination to mainstream into her classroom and be like her peers.  Lyla has Spina Bifida and has had to work harder learn how to move in her classroom.  Lyla receives developmental and occupational therapy in her preschool classroom and she has received speech and language through Schuylkill IU#29.  All agree that Lyla has the determination to be like every other child.  Lyla’s strong spirit and her dedicated teaching and therapy staff have contributed to Lyla’s success in the classroom.  Lyla will be moving on to kindergarten in the fall ready to learn and succeed in school. 

Garrett L. is in his second year at Dawn to Dusk (Keystone STARS 3) in Pine Grove.  Garrett was nominated by his mother, Brandy.  “Few people could understand what Garrett was saying when he started at Dawn to Dusk but within a few months, his speech noticeably improved.  He was also shy and timid but with the help of his teachers he has blossomed into a confident little boy who likes to read out loud to his peers.  He attempts to read second grade materials and solve math problems.  Brandy attributes Garrett’s success in Pre-K because of his teachers, Miss Tara and Miss Kelly.  She says that his teachers are kind and attentive and have encouraged Garrett to showcase his talents not only at school but at home as well.”  Garrett will be attending kindergarten in the fall is ready for his transition because of his solid foundation at Dawn to Dusk. 

Gavin B. is a 4 year old that attended Child Development, Inc. Tamaqua Center (Keystone STARS 4) and now participates in a home base, Head Start Program through Child Development.  Gavin’s mother Stacey Kunkel nominated her son, Gavin, as a Keystone Shining STARS nominee because of the growth and development that Gavin has achieved since starting his early preschool program.

Colleen Collucci, home advocate and teacher meets with Gavin and his mother on a weekly basis and both can see the growth and development that Gavin has achieved over the last two years.  Stacey feels that had Gavin not be attending his quality early educational program that he may not have been referred to special services that have helped Gavin with his speech and behavior. Because of his foundation in Child Development, Head Start, Gavin is prepared to transition into kindergarten in the fall. 

Khuslen “Julia” D. was nominated by the owner/director of A Step Ahead, Jane Petrilla, owner of A Step Ahead (Keystone STARS 4).  Jane nominated Khuslen “Julia”  as she feels Julia has reached her academic potential while being enrolled at A Step Ahead.  When Julia first came to A Step Ahead she did not speak any English, her family is from Mongolia and do not speak English with the exception of Julia’s brother who attends college.  Her brother often serves as an interpreter for the family.  When Julia started at A Step Ahead she did not speak any English but today after spending two years at A Step Ahead, can speak and understand English.  In fact she is so advanced in her English skills that she will not need any special services at Schuylkill Haven Elementary school when she transitions in the fall.  Jane Petrilla says Julia “exhibits confidence in speaking, singing and dancing in front of a group.  Jane’s preschool program at A Step Ahead, LLC is structured and follows the Keystone STARS Performance Standards as well as the Pennsylvania State Early Learning Standards.  Through daily hands on experiences with literacy skills, Julia has blossomed into a secure, well rounded 5 year old who is teaching her younger sister how to speak English.  Jane has been impressed with how quickly Julia was able to learn complete sentences and use a rich vocabulary in her second language.  Jane feels that Julia is a Shining STAR example representing the possibilities a child can achieve when enrolled in her Keystone STARS 4 preschool program. 

Logan F. attended Child Development, Inc. Duncott’s Head Start Program, August 2006 to May of 2008 and his brother Dylan, 2007 to 2009.  Both boys currently attend Gillingham’s Charter School in Pottsville.  When Logan first attended the Ducnott center he was extremely shy and quiet as was his brother.  They were both accustomed to being with mommy and only mommy.  They had difficulty separating and socializing with other children and adults.  As the year progressed, both boys blossomed into independent, outgoing, and social children.  This was due in part to the classroom teachers but also to the other “Shining STAR” in his family, Mom or as she is called at the center, Miss Tiffany!  She persevered, wiped away the tears and reassured her sons, “everything will be ok.”  Once they began to adjust, she spent many hours volunteering in their classroom.  The boy who at one time couldn’t bear the thought of being away from his mother was now able to share her with his friends!  The partnership between home and school, parent and teacher allowed Logan to enter kindergarten prepared and confident.  Logan grew, not only socially but in every other way as well.  His cognitive, motor and language and literacy skills are all advanced.  After seeing Tiffany in the classroom, engaging with children, the director of the center, Marianna D’Angelo, decided that Tiffany needed to be part of the team and is now a teacher at the center.  Tiffany is a single mother and is pursuing her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. 

Riley S. was nominated by his mother, Kelli as a Shining STAR.  Riley attended Child Development’s Inc. Head Start Program at the Pottsville Center (Keystone STAR 4).  He attended from September 2004 to June 2005 and he is now a 6th grader at Blue Mountain Middle School.  When Riley was enrolled in the Head Start Program, Kelli’s husband Jim was in between jobs.  They could not afford a preschool program and were worried because it was the year before Riley would be starting kindergarten.  Enrolling Riley in Child Development, Inc. was an answer to prayers.  Riley was very shy when he started but his teacher Krissy encouraged Riley to learn by using the activities that he enjoyed the most to engage Riley with his learning.  He learned many skills like counting, sorting, fine motor skills, spatial relations, colors and many other things.  Riley today is a very independent, intelligent, respectful, funny and active 12 year old.  He is a straight A’s student who is often on distinguished honor roll.  He plays percussion in the Middle School Band and Jazz Band.  He plays basketball and baseball.  He helps to teach at kid’s church once a month at our church.  He volunteers at our local food pantry and packs shoe boxes every year for “Operation Christmas Child.”  Kelli attributes Riley’s success to the year of preschool he received in the Head Start program but also that she and her husband are hands-on parents who encourage their son’s education and success in his studies. 

Kelli believes that there are many factors that have contributed to her son’s success.  She believes his pre-k program paved the path along with her and her husband’s interest in their son’s school work.  They always encouraged him to work hard and get good grades and the contribute their interest form Head Start teachers providing the tools that taught the Sophy’s to be actively engaged in their child’s learning.  Kelli is thankful that Riley had the opportunity to attend the program and have a great start. Kelli feels confident that Riley has a bright future and that is why she has nominated Riley as a Keystone Shining STAR.

For More Information on Schuylkill County’s Shining STARS or if you would like more information on Early Childhood Learning Programs, contact: Carmel Yingling, LEARN Coordinator, at (570) 544-8959 ext. 221 or





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