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In the Quad Cities area of eastern Iowa and western Illinois, the programs of Aim4Excellence and Exploring Careers in Early Childhood are organized through the work of the Bi-State Early Childhood Academy. The academy is supported by the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, Montessori Heartland Teacher Education Center and Scott County Kids.


Danen Bush Danen Busch
Program & Training Coordinator
Villa Montessori School, Moline

Danen Bush is a facilitator for the following
professional development programs.




Aim4Excellence is an online national director credential for early childhood administrators. As a project of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University, it focuses on the essential knowledge and skills needed to deliver high-quality programming for young children. It’s designed to help current directors and emerging directors better manage the many tasks they juggle.


The content includes 9 self-paced modules that can be taken for credit or noncredit. Participants who enroll earn the Aim4Excellence National Director Credential.


The modules include:

  • Leading the Way: Effective Leadership

  • Recruiting, Selecting and Orienting Staff

  • Promoting Peak Performance

  • Managing Program Operations

  • Building a Sound Business Strategy

  • Planning Indoor and Outdoor Environments

  • Supporting Children’s Development and Learning

  • Creating Partnerships with Families

  • Evaluating Program Quality


Interested administrators and those interested in becoming an administrator can enroll in the program at the start of the Quad City cohort and can complete the modules from anywhere there is internet access. Participants have 8 weeks to complete a module. Each module costs $175 and college credit can be arranged for an additional fee. The cohort model provides a positive and supportive learning environment for participants, as well as the experience of visiting the centers of participants. Each cohort is led by a local facilitator that has been trained by the McCormick Center of Early Childhood and National Louis University. For information contact



Bi-State Early Childhood Academy


For those individuals who have had little or no formal training in early childhood, Exploring Careers in Early Childhood (ECEC) is a program designed to give an overview of the field as a career—not simply a job. It’s hands-on, practical training that benefits the participants by showing them potential career advancement as well as connecting them with professionals in the field. Sessions are held at Montessori Heartland Teacher Education Center and led by a trained facilitator.


Experts on the various topics listed below provide participants with not only valuable information to be used in the classroom, but also contacts that they may use in the Early Childhood field should they choose to continue in this career. Topics include:

  • How Young Children Grow and Develop

  • Safety Issues for Children

  • Nutrition and Health Issues

  • Environments for Young Children

  • Observation and Guidance: Tools for Early Care Teachers

  • Learning Happens in Relationships

  • Family and Community Relationships

  • Personal and Professional Development

Classes and all materials are funded by the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend. Sessions have been state-approved by Gateways (Illinois) and Department of Human Services (Iowa) to count toward required staff development hours, as well as towards the completion of the Child Development Associate (CDA).


Applications can be found at the Community Foundation website: or by contacting Montessori Heartland Teacher Education Center at 309/764-7047 or e-mail.