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About HEIP


The goals of the HEIP Project at Heartland Community College included:

  • Redesigning seven core courses in Heartland's early childhood education curriculum to create a fully blended curriculum that prepares practitioners to support the development and learning of children who are culturally, linguistically and ability-diverse.
  • Providing training and ongoing support to Heartland and Illinois early childhood faculty to ensure they have the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to prepare professionals to support the development and learning of each and every child.
  • Expanding the capacity of community-based childcare to provide highquality,

Core Courses

The seven core courses represent the efforts of early childhood general, special, and bilingual two- and four-year faculty throughout the state of Illinois. The courses
represent current evidence-based practices and research and are designed to prepare practitioners at the community college level with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to support each and every child within thriving classroom communities. The core courses provide a strong educational foundation, as courses are based on the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards, NAEYC Standards for Professional Preparation, the DEC Professional Preparation Standards, and are crosswalked to the Gateways to Opportunity benchmarks.

Use of the core courses ensures:

  • Continuity of course offerings and quality across the community college system
  • Ease of participation with Gateways Credential system
  • Practitioners have knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to support each and every child and their family, inclusive of diversity in culture, language and ability


Project Staff

  • Principle Investigator - Johnna Darragh-Ernst, Heartland Community College
  • Project Director - Darlene Wills, Heartland Community College
  • Project Assistant - Deb Presley, Heartland Community College

State Steering Committee Membership

  • Cheryl Butlat, Morton College
  • Lynette Chandler, Northern Illinois University
  • Julie Cotter, Livingston County Special Services Unit
  • Rebecca Francois, Bloomington Public Schools District 87
  • Chuck Hartseil, McLean County Unit School District 5
  • Mary-alayne Hughes, University of Illinois
  • Christy Kosharek, SPICE of marcfirst
  • Jan Maruna, Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
  • Shelley Marquis, Family member, Heartland Community College
  • Carrie Nepstad, Harold Washington College
  • Debra O'Connell, Heartland Head Start
  • Pam Reising Rechner, Illinois State Board of Education, Early Childhood Division
  • Erin Rogers, Easter Seals Peoria-Bloomington
  • Teri Saxton, Heartland Community College
  • Joni Scritchlow, Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
  • Joyce Weiner, Ounce of Prevention
  • Anne Wharff, IL Department of Human Services

National Steering Committee Membership

  • Camille Catlett, UNC-Frank Porter Graham
  • Susan Maude, Iowa State University
  • Susan Moore, University of Colorado
  • Tweety Yates, University of Illinois
  • Eva Thorp, George Mason University

Contact Us

Johnna Darragh-Ernst

Professor Early Childhood Education

1500 W Raab Road
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-268-8746