Center Spotlight: Sunshine Early Learning Center Celebrates 51 Years of Service to the Community
When Ms. Frances J. Rollins began operating Sunshine Early Learning Center (Sunshine) in 1968 with her mother Mrs. Helen Smith, there were six children enrolled in the program. They were the only staff members, so both ladies took turns teaching, cooking, and cleaning. From that humble beginning, Sunshine in Southeast, DC has grown to include 200 enrolled children and 35 full-time staff members.
As the center's demands grew, Ms. Rollins identified a need to train ECE educators. That’s why in 1994, Ms. Rollins founded the Southeast Children’s Fund, a nonprofit which concentrates on ECE workforce development and family supports. Though times have changed, children have grown, and staff have come and went, Sunshine has maintained its purpose by staying rooted in six core values: excellence, diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning, partnership collaboration, respect, and professionalism.
Another part of Sunshine’s success is maintaining a bevy of long-serving staff and employees. Ms. Cynthia Thomas (picture above on the left), also known as Ms. Cynthia, is an infant and toddler teacher that has been with Sunshine for 18 years. When asked why she remains a faithful employee, Ms. Cynthia said “Ms. Rollins hired me, believed in me, and encouraged me to continue my education. I came to Sunshine with a high school diploma and Ms. Rollins pushed me until I graduated college with an associate degree.”
As Sunshine reflects on and celebrates its past, Interim CEO Kamren Rollins is focused on growing Sunshine’s reach and Ms. Rollins’ vision. In the future, Sunshine is planning on expanding to include Kindergarten and a stand-alone charter elementary school from Pre-K through 5th grade. However Sunshine decides to chart its future course, it will do so by leading with and expecting excellence.
DCAEYC salutes Sunshine Early Learning Center and Southeast Children’s Fund as being a permanent fixture of excellence in the community for over 50 years.