Return on investments in high-quality, early childhood education is significant and long lasting, PNC regional President says.

The Butler Lab School has received a three-year, $150,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to support the school’s preschool program, improve the students’ emotional skills through the practice of yoga, and increase the quality of early childhood education in Indiana through multiple professional development opportunities for the community at large.

Connie Bond Stuart (left) and Ena Shelley
with Lab School student Lucy Ansell.

The grant will address the needs of underserved children in a school where 73 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch. The Lab School now has 22 half-day students and nine full-day students. Of those 31 students, 22 are on scholarship.

“Because of PNC’s financial involvement, these children’s educational dreams are being realized,” said Ena Shelley, Dean of Butler’s College of Education, which operates the school in partnership with the Indianapolis Public Schools.

In addition, preschool students will be taught yoga, which has been shown to improve social-emotional skills. Yoga relieves stress, gives the students a chance to move purposefully, and teaches them how to calm down and focus.

Shelley said Assistant Professor Lori Desautels, a nationally recognized expert in the area of applied educational neuroscience, is researching effective strategies to help children take control of their behaviors and potentially change the direction of their learning and emotional well-being. Applied educational neuroscience, coupled with focused attention practices as a part of a yoga program, would be implemented to train teachers.

The third part of the grant will offer opportunities such as support for 20 educators to attend Indiana Partnership for Young Writers (IPYW) workshops, where topics such as Math, Reading, Writing, and Early Childhood will be addressed by the nation’s most respected education experts.

“Extensive research shows the return on investments in high-quality, early childhood education is significant and long lasting, positively impacting our children, society and economy,” said Connie Bond Stuart, PNC regional President for central and southern Indiana. “Through PNC Grow Up Great®, our signature cause in early childhood education, we contribute to the future of this region and help close learning readiness gaps faced by many children as they enter kindergarten. Our support provides area preschoolers and their families the resources to better prepare for success in school and life.”