Our roots in the Immokalee community are humble and deep.
Today, and for the past 55 years, Pathways Early Education Center of Immokalee has served the Immokalee community by providing exceptional childcare and education that enhances our student’s learning experience and school readiness. Because each student learns differently and has unique learning styles, we utilize our exclusive START education program in an individualized education plan.
We use this individualized approach in each of our programs so the students get the most out of every learning experience. For example, our literacy-based programs lift-up our students and put them on the path to success with their peers as they enter kindergarten. The START program (Science, Technology, Arts and Reading Together) was created exclusively for Pathways to bring literacy to life by incorporating science, technology, the arts and reading into the curriculum through hands on methods.
As we looked back at the past 55 years, we see all our accomplishments in providing exceptional childcare and education to the children of Immokalee. This left us looking towards the next 55 years, and the next milestone in serving these children in need.
We want our mission and vision for the next 55 years and beyond to be accurately communicated to the public and our families. We have rebranded the Immokalee Child Care Center to Pathways Early Education Center of Immokalee. Our goal is that Pathways Early Education Center of Immokalee will communicate that we are much more than “babysitting”. Our children are actively engaged in age-appropriate learning opportunities, exposing them to more language and technology, building their social skills, and establishing a powerful base of self-esteem for a successful future. A part of our mission is to educate the families of these children and our teachers, continuing the education and opportunities for everyone outside of the classroom.
We want to prolong our success and ensure our bright path so we are unifying the Foundation for the betterment of community and betterment of the students.
Pathways opened a brand-new facility thanks to a generous donation of 1.14 acres of land, a fundraiser for building expenses, and a pledge to cover architects’ fees.
That same year, a Foundation for Pathways was established in 1996 to provide an endowment fund for ongoing financial support for the organization.
With 11,000 square feet of child-nurturing space, the new Pathways building features 11 classrooms, a kitchen, a great room, and a large outdoor playground. There are 22 teachers, two cooks, one maintenance personnel, and administrative staff on premise. A 24-hour security system was also put in place.
This decade brought a growth spurt to Pathways in so many ways. Pathways earned national accreditation as a school for young children. We also installed the first computer system, received state-approved child care training and launched many new, exciting programs.
These included an on-site “Educating the Educators” program which helped teachers earn state certification; The Early Literacy Program which brings volunteers into the classroom to read to the little ones; art and music programs; summer-camp adventures; and a voluntary pre-k program that prepares children entering elementary school.
With the help of grant assistance and the generosity of individuals, Pathways added three classrooms, lovingly built by Habitat of Humanity. This expansion was a major turning point for Pathways. Now it was licensed to serve 100 children—and went from basic daycare services to providing an early childhood, pre-school teaching program.
An exciting expansion to the Pathways building occurred this year. We added a playroom, craft room and office which supported the upward path we were on.
Pathways was currently caring for 50 children and growing at a very rapid rate. We started connecting with even more supportive organizations and became an United Way Agency partner.
Originally founded as the Immokalee Child Care Center of Immokalee, Pathways Early Learning Center of Immokalee was established in 1962. This endeavor all began when two women from Naples—Mrs. Jessup and Mrs. Fuller—decided to make the season brighter by bringing gifts to the children of migrant workers. They both quickly realized that the children of migrant workers needed much more than toys at Christmas.
The migrant workers often had no one to care for their little ones during the workday. Some locked their children in shacks to keep them safe, while other pulled their babies along in cardboard boxes while they worked in the fields.
This didn’t sit right with Mrs. Jessup and Mrs. Fuller. In January 1962, they related their experiences at a meeting of Church Women United and touched a lot of hearts. By spring, they had organized a benefit tea and raised $500—which was then matched by the Migrant Committee.
Soon thereafter community groups banded together and found a location which was an open-air washhouse converted for into a childcare center. They created one large room for the children, a kitchen (with donated appliances), and a bathroom.
That year Pathways took in 25 children. Even low on funds, Pathways never have and never will turn away a single child.