In response to the state’s creation of a strategic plan to prioritize its early childhood system to support the growth and development of children from birth to age 5, the Cape Henlopen School District has named Audrey Carey its supervisor of early learning.
In this new position, Carey will create partnerships with public, private, nonprofit, faith-based and community agencies to work toward development of the whole child, and provide parents with access to high-quality programs and services for children.
The new position shows a philosophy shift toward early intervention and planning in order to reach as many children as possible who were previously underserved, Carey said.
“It’s the right thing for kids,” Carey said. “I have seen the difference it’s made.”
Carey joins Cape after 25 years with the Indian River School District, where she worked as an elementary teacher, district test coordinator, new teacher mentor coordinator, supervisor of instruction and supervisor of early learning.
She said she joined Cape because of its vision for creating a system that touches as many community children as possible. Pre-K is not just daycare, she said, and the early learning initiative is not just an extension of kindergarten.
Carey said she looks forward to expanding services both within district schools and in partnership with outside childcare centers to prepare children not just for kindergarten, but to provide a foundation for their lifelong development.
“I haven’t spoken to a single person who doesn’t believe in early learning programming,” she said.
Carey said a free screening opportunity is available for parents that will determine if their child is meeting developmental milestones in communication, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and social areas. The screening is in both English and Spanish, and open to all district families with children ages birth to 5.
Families who participate will receive the screening and results, information describing age-appropriate activities for home, and information about developmental milestones.
Carey also noted that the district has partnered with Lewes Public Library to offer a summer enrichment reading program for pre-K students ages 3 to 5. The Tuesday story hour and Thursday performance series both begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue through July 28.
Cape is also offering free transportation on program days. Buses will pick up participants at designated stops, and take them to and from the library. One adult must ride the bus with the children at all times.
Registration is not required. For more information, including bus schedules, go to capehenlopenschools.com/summer-enrichment.
Carey received her bachelor’s degree in education from Salisbury University. She received her master’s degree in school leadership and instruction, and her doctorate in educational innovation and leadership from Wilmington University.
She and fiancé Sgt. Cliff Dempsey of the Dewey Beach Police Department have five children between them. Carey’s daughter is a College of Charleston student, and her son is a rising ninth-grader at Sussex Central High. Dempsey’s oldest son owns First State Land Clearing, his daughter is a rising senior at Sussex Central and his son will be in eighth grade at Millsboro Middle.
For more information about Cape Henlopen’s early childhood development, including links to the free developmental screenings, go to bit.ly/3nO3Hdr or call 302-645-6686.