Altoona Area High School

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The Child Zone Preschool Program @ AAHS



Within the Altoona Area High School is its very own preschool program - The Child Zone Preschool Program. 

The purpose of The Child Zone Preschool Program is threefold:

  • High school child care students or “student teachers” are provided with an opportunity to gain invaluable, hands-on experience working with preschool aged children.
  • Student teachers are able to earn collegiate credits / certifications after the completion of a predetermined number of theory and lab hours.  
  • Local children are afforded a valuable preschool experience at a reasonable cost.



Altoona Area High School was recently recognized by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, as one of twelve schools to achieve excellence in the area of career and technical education.  Over 75% of students enrolled in the AAHS Child Care program scored at an advanced level on their end of program NOCTI exams – rigorous assessments used to measure theoretical knowledge as well as practical ability in a given field.

Areas of Development


  •  Physical
  •  Social
  •  Emotional
  •  Cognitive
  •  Language Development

What Makes Us Special

  •       Child Zone student teachers are comprised of current AAHS students who are learning invaluable skills, while earning college credits/certifications, in the area of child care.


  •        A unique learning environment created by talented student teachers.


  •       Former preschoolers have returned as student teachers.



The Child Zone @ AAHS Philosophy


Children are natural-born scientists and through the use of their senses, they are constantly exploring, interacting, and learning about the world around them.  Calling upon these senses and experiences enables The AAHS Child Zone Preschool Program to facilitate growth within a stimulating, multi-sensory environment. 


When combined with daily practice, these newly acquired skills, provide children with an opportunity to develop positive self-perceptions through learning and play.  Thus, facilitating happier, healthier individuals who are more equipped to succeed in today’s ever-changing society.


Through “motivational magic” and “imagination stretchers,” the whole child can grow.


Child Zone Stories


The Altoona Area High School preschool program has been serving our community for more than 55 years.  High school students take our Family & Consumer Science Child Care courses to gain skill and theory hours that enable them to be employable upon graduation.  But it’s more than that.  Many students desire to help start the educational journey for the community children serviced by the Child Zone.


Megan Burley, is currently a child care student who is “giving back.”  She attended preschool with Miss Dorothy Moore in 2003 and in 2014 she is taking the class as a “student teacher”. Megan remembers really loving arts & crafts and painting with her favorite student teacher, Crystal. “She taught me how to draw pony tails on my stick figures and then I taught my friends in kindergarten how to draw them.  My friends and I would always want to ride on the tractor.  When it was my turn, I rode over the foot of my student teacher, Ashley.  My sister Kaitlin was in preschool when Miss Moore got married the year after me, so she learned her name as Mrs. Liller.  We still remember the “taste tests”.  Spaghetti squash was one we both recall”, Megan shares with a twinkle in her blue eyes.  My AASD teaching career began when I started my college required observations in 1983 working with Darlene Betar (Roosevelt Jr. High FCS) and Beverly Swartz (AAHS- FCS/Preschool).  After graduation from IUP I worked with them for many years until their retirement from the district.  Both women became my mentors, colleagues and friends.


Michelle Dugan Harding, ‘89 was another student that was taught by Miss Moore.  Harding was an active member in the club Moore advised for 15 years known at the time as FHA, Future Homemakers of America.  Harding recalls, “As soon as I heard your voice, I knew it was you”.  She enrolled her daughter, Addison, this year in our afternoon preschool class.  Addison continues the long history of siblings, nieces and nephews attending the AAHS preschool.   Harding said, “I remember going to Pittsburgh with you for our state conference.  It was the first time I’d stayed in a hotel.  You took us on the Gateway Clipper ship for a dinner dance and it was so much fun.  High school was really fun because all my friends were together”.  


Mary Marin (AAHS Special Education), a former district employee recalls attending preschool in 1957 and continued into kindergarten at Garfield Elementary school. She remembers riding the bus and walking with Uncle Roy to the “Brownstone” and back home past a corner store.  Mary’s mother recalls seeing evidence of a stop for a “chocolate cone” on her school dress many a day.


In our afternoon class, we have a child whose parents met in the Child Zone during their preschool years of 1989-1992.  Emalyn Rickabaugh is a bubbly, inquisitive child with a long family history here at the Child Zone. Her mother (Nicole Howard Rickabaugh, ‘06) and father (Matthew Rickabaugh, ‘06) began a lifetime friendship right here.  It developed during the years they attended preschool and was reignited in junior high when they realized, through a class photo, they were in the same preschool class. “Matt is standing right behind me with his hand on my shoulder,” Nicole says, with a big warm smile on her face.   Re-united again after graduation, Nicole and Matt married and began their family.  Nicole shares, “We always knew that our children would attend the Child Zone, no question.  I have such fond memories of coming to school here and learning so much, that Matt and I just knew when Emalyn was ready, she too would attend.”  Emalyn started with Mrs. Dorothy (Moore) Liller in 2013 and continues now for her second year.   “Friendships are such an important aspect of social development at this age, well really at any age.  Some last a day and some a lifetime”, Liller comments.  “These memorable relationships we develop with our students (at any grade level) may be rekindled when they walk back into our lives as older students, preschool parents, co-workers, neighbors and friends” Liller recalls with a smile.

Registration / Contact Information


The Altoona Area High School (AAHS) Child Zone Preschool Program is accepting registrations for the 2018-2019 school year. 


  •      Toilet trained children ranging from ages 3-5 can be enrolled for classes; beginning in October and ending in May.


  •      Preschool sessions are available Tuesday through Thursday in either the morning (9:05 - 11:20) or afternoon (12:10 - 2:25).


  •      The cost per child is $30 per month.


If you are interested in learning more about AAHS’ Child Zone Preschool Program, please contact Dorothy Liller via Phone: 946 – 8354 or E-mail:

Upcoming Events

Child Zone Activities


  •  Technology
  •  Science
  •  Art
  •  Music
  •  Writing
  •  Reading
  •  Multi-sensory
  •  Puzzles
  •  Building Blocks
  •  Play
  •  Snack Time
  •  Taste Tests
  •  Story Time