RSVPs due today for the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

by Administrator 7. July 2014 10:40

RSVPs for the School Readiness Summit are due today! Don't miss your chance to join this important conversation and help us improve school readiness for all children in Durham.

The transition to kindergarten is one of the most significant events that a young child experiences, and it lays the foundation for future success in school and life. A smooth transition to kindergarten is a shared responsibility among many individuals and institutions including children, families, teachers, schools and the community. 

At the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action, we will explore how all sectors of the community can contribute to improving school readiness in Durham. This special event features Ken Smythe-Leistico,a national leading expert on kindergarten transition and founder of the Ready Freddy Pathways to Kindergarten Success Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Together, we will learn how to blend strategies that tie parent engagement, child development, welcoming schools, and community support into a successful transition for all children in Durham. With Ken's guidance through interactive presentations and neighborhood-based action planning, you will leave with an understanding of your role in this collaborative effort and what you can do to help close the achievement gap.

Monday, July 21st
8:30am - 12:30 pm
The Durham Convention Center 

Eventbrite - School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

The School Readiness Summit is presented by Durham's Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools and is sponsored in part by PNC Bank.

Join us at the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

by Administrator 23. May 2014 12:53

The transition to kindergarten is one of the most significant events that a young child experiences, and it lays the foundation for future success in school and life. A smooth transition to kindergarten is a shared responsibility among many individuals and institutions including children, families, teachers, schools and the community. 

Please join us at the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action, to learn how all sectors of the community can contribute to improving school readiness in Durham. This special event features Ken Smythe-Leistico,a national leading expert on kindergarten transition and founder of the Ready Freddy Pathways to Kindergarten Success Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Together, we will learn how to blend strategies that tie parent engagement, child development, welcoming schools, and community support into a successful transition for all children in Durham. With Ken's guidance through interactive presentations and neighborhood-based action planning, you will leave with an understanding of your role in this collaborative effort and what you can do to help close the achievement gap.

Monday, July 21st
8:30am - 12:30 pm
The Durham Convention Center 

Eventbrite - School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

The School Readiness Summit is presented by Durham's Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools and is sponsored in part by PNC Bank. 

Please indicate on the registration form if you are interested in earning Continuing Education Units (CEU's) for this event and you will be contacted within one week. The cost of CEU's for the first 50 registrants will be provided by our sponsors at Discount School Supply and Lakeshore Learning.

Early Childhood Bus Tour focuses on school readiness in Durham

by Administrator 19. May 2014 15:49

Last week, the Partnership hosted community leaders and volunteers for another Early Childhood Bus Tour. This event, sponsored by Mechanics and Farmers Bank, is a way for us to invite participants to learn more about our work throughout Durham and view the community through the lens of early childhood. 

Nearly 25 people joined us on Wednesday, May 14th as we traveled to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Primary Colors Child Care Center, and Lakewood Elementary. We kicked off the event by asking attendees to build Blast-Off to Kindergarten Kits, which is one of many volunteer opportunities here at the Partnership. These kits are a key part of the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, and we delivered the kits built by our guests during the tour. After introductions and kit-building, attendees heard from Queron Smith, Senior Vice President/City Executive of Mechanics and Farmers Bank, about their commitment to the needs of Durham’s young children and community. Smith’s daughter was also in attendance, and she informed us she was “getting ready for kindergarten” and got the tour off to a great start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first stop on the tour was St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where attendees saw an extraordinary community-based program, LEAP, that showcases how the Partnership’s Early Childhood Faith Initiative and the community impact school readiness. The faith community has an important role to play in the development of young children, and our Faith Initiative was born out of a desire to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood issues and the availability of resources. 

The Latino Educational Achievement Partnership (LEAP) pre-k program, is a collaboration of St. Luke’s, St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, and Iglesia El Buen Pastor. What began as one volunteer providing English-as-a-Second-Language tutoring to adults has developed into a center that serves 24 children in its pre-k classrooms and provides tutoring to 20 school-aged children. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and the dedication of faith community volunteers.

 

The next stop on the tour was Primary Colors Child Care Center, a 5-star center that serves children funded through the NC Pre-K program. NC Pre-K Coordinator Jena Carter discussed markers of high quality early care and education – including learning environment materials, teacher education, and assessment tools – which was then showcased as participants had a chance to tour two NC Pre-K classrooms and see some enthusiastic young learners in action! The group also saw children learning through play in the outdoor learning environment, and Primary Colors is currently working with the NC State Natural Learning Initiative to make their outdoor learning environment even more dynamic and effective.

    

Our final stop was Lakewood Elementary, home to one of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative’s Transition Teams. The transition teams are comprised of teachers, parents and school administrators, all with the common goal of wanting to make kindergarten an exciting and welcoming place for new students and families in their community. Tour participants heard from Wren Davisson, TTK Program Coordinator at the Partnership, as well as La' Kesha Roberts, Principal of Lakewood Elementary. After learning more about the TTK Initiative and the significance of a smooth transition to kindergarten, attendees toured a kindergarten classroom and saw firsthand the huge difference between pre-k and kindergarten.

   

All participants left the bus tour with a deeper understanding of the scope of the Partnership’s work, as well as the need for community-wide commitment and efforts to ensure that every child in Durham enters school healthy and ready to succeed. As we emphasized that morning, school readiness is everybody’s business, and we need all sectors of the community working toward a common goal of building children for success.  

One way you can join this work is to participate in the School Readiness Summit on July 21st. You can also get involved by volunteering, signing up for our email list for news and advocacy alerts, subscribing to this blog, following us on facebook, and joining us on a bus tour! Our next tour is scheduled for September 16th, so please contact Krissy Dunn if you are interested in attending.

The Partnership announces TTK mini-grant recipients

by Administrator 28. April 2014 11:15

We are pleased to announce that we have awarded Transition to Kindergarten mini-grants to 16 child care sites and elementary schools through our collaborative Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative. The grant amounts total $5,000 to support early educators, elementary schools and child care sites in designing and implementing transition events for their specific student and parent populations. This is the third year the Partnership has offered mini-grants for TTK projects. Funds for these mini-grants were made available through gifts from Wells Fargo and the Morgan Creek Foundation. 

The TTK Initiative is a collaborative project of the Partnership and Durham Public Schools that prepares children, families and schools for a successful entrance into kindergarten from formal pre-school programs or home settings. Positive links between school and home and increased parent involvement are both critical factors of long-term school success. This year’s mini-grants include activities such as summer transition camps, student portfolios, field trips to kindergarten classrooms, and kindergarten parent nights.

 “We know that prepared children and families are more successful at facing the enormous transition of entering school,” said Laura Benson, Executive Director of the Partnership. “Rising kindergartners and their families will be prepared, ready, and engaged if they know what to expect, and school administrators and teachers can prepare and respond to needs with more individual focus if they are given the opportunity to welcome incoming children and families before the first day.”

Mini-grant recipients include:
Bethesda Elementary
Children’s Campus at Southpoint
Early Explorers Playschool
Easley Elementary
Eastway Elementary
Fayetteville Street Elementary
Greater Outreach Services
Holt Elementary
Kiddie Kollege
Lakewood Avenue Preschool
Oak Grove Elementary
Operation Breakthrough Oxford Manor
Paradise Escapades
Spring Valley Elementary
Tutor Time
White Rock Child Development Center

 “The mini-grants allow for a targeted approach, with activities and information tailored for children and their families at each school,” said Benson. “As these projects unfold in the community, we can directly address the needs of transitioning young learners and promote school readiness throughout Durham.”

In addition to the mini-grants, rising kindergartners and their families benefit from other TTK activities such as Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, a School Readiness Summit on July 21st, and the pilot program of Transition Teams at Forest View Elementary, Lakewood Elementary and Y.E. Smith Elementary. 

The Transition Teams, comprised of teachers, parents and school administrators, have implemented a series of events for rising kindergartners and their families, including upcoming activities on April 29th (Forest View Elementary), May 1st (Y.E. Smith Elementary) and May 8th (Lakewood Elementary). Attendees at these “Kindergarten, Here I Come!” events will have an opportunity to meet future classmates, participate in parent-child activities, and interact with kindergarten teachers. More information about the TTK Initiative, mini-grants, and all upcoming events can be found at www.durhamgoestokindergarten.com.

WOYC: volunteers making a difference for young children

by Administrator 9. April 2014 15:06

In addition to being Week of the Young Child, this week is also National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Our volunteers are making a difference that lasts a lifetime, and it is with their help that we’re able to reach so many young children and families in Durham. We could not do what we do without our volunteers, so it makes perfect sense for these celebrations to go hand in hand!

Here’s a peek at just some of the ways that volunteers are helping during Week of the Young Child:

  • Volunteers engaged the community at events like the Children’s Festival at Northgate Mall and the Pinwheels for Prevention Family Fun Day at Wheels Fun Park.
  • Volunteers are providing the essential building blocks for early literacy and language development through our Readers as Leaders program. Our readers visit classrooms in child care centers in Durham each week, using the power of their friendship to build a love of reading and enhancing the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading development required for continued school success.

  • Volunteers helped at the NC Pre-K “Blitz” Open Application Day. Along with Partnership staff and other collaborative partners, they processed walk-in applications for the NC Pre-K 2014-15 school year.

  • Volunteers are building Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, a key component of our Transition to Kindergarten Initiative. The Kits provide school readiness materials designed to prepare children and families for the transition from home to kindergarten, and each one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. We will distribute 1,600 Kits to at-risk children this year, all of which will be assembled by volunteers.

  • Volunteers are maintaining the safety and beauty of the outdoor learning environment at Bryson’s Christian Montessori School, a Durham Early Head Start and NC Pre-K site. Engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children. Volunteers will also help to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden, which develops children’s understanding of food systems and improves environmental attitudes and food choices. 
  • Volunteers are helping to guide the work of the Partnership by lending their time, expertise, and passion for early childhood by serving on our Board of Directors and Committees.

We would like to thank all of our volunteers for the valuable work they do, as they make a world of difference in the lives of young children across Durham County. If you are interested in volunteering with the Partnership, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn at krissy@dpfc.net or (919) 403-6960 ext. 230.

Thank you for making a difference for young children!

Durham Tech Students Assemble Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits

by Administrator 31. March 2014 14:17

Earlier this month, a large group of Durham Tech students enthusiastically assembled nearly 300 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits in support of the Partnership’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, a joint effort between the Partnership and Durham Public Schools. Partnership staff delivered boxes full of educational materials to the campus and students quickly demonstrated their collaboration skills, work ethic, and giving spirit as they diligently worked together to sort them into kits for rising kindergarteners.  

Many of the volunteers were students enrolled in the community college’s Early Childhood Education program. They were inspired by their understanding of how important materials such as books, puzzles, scissors, crayons and paper are in stimulating young minds and preparing them for success in school. Countless young children in Durham do not have access to these basic educational tools and the Partnership relies on the hard work of our volunteers to help us get more kits into the hands of the children who need them the most.

  

We would like to extend our gratitude to our fantastic Durham Tech volunteers and a special thanks to the Durham Tech staff who helped us coordinate this project: Erin Riney, Coordinator, Service Learning and Sally Palier, Volunteer Services Coordinator.

We really appreciate the time all of our volunteers devote to supporting young children! You can learn more about our volunteer opportunities by clicking here or by contacting Krissy Dunn at krissy@dpfc.net or (919) 403-6960, ext 230.

Kindergarten Compliments Run Fast

by Administrator 28. March 2014 14:28

Guest blog by: Laura Benson, Executive Director of Durham's Partnership for Children

Earlier this month, I spent the morning in Katie Stockton’s kindergarten class at Maureen Joy Charter School. Ms. Stockton is a Teach for America corps member, and I was invited to present a lesson during Teach for America week. Despite extensive public speaking experience, my anxiety increased in an inverse proportion to the size and age of this audience – it is a small class of 5- year-olds. My anxiety was sky high!  

With the assignment of sharing something about myself and inspiring the children through things that I love, I chose the theme of running. The students, aptly called “scholars” when addressed as a group by their teacher, were attentive, curious, engaging, and thoughtful. After a show and tell of race medals (for participation, not for prize, in case you mistook this for a boast) and calculating the number of runners in a given race based on my bib numbers, I read Jamie Lee Curtis’ The Great Human Race. The scholars then shared examples of ways they work together, rather than compete against each other. The large lettered “Team Work” sign on the wall behind me was the ideal backdrop. “Walking with urgency” to their table groups, the scholars filled in a picture of a “compliment jar” with carefully lettered words and sentences, lavishing praise on their classmates. 

After sharing again in the larger group circle about ways they help their families and make their community better, they signed their names to the shirt I’ll wear in my next running event – namely, The Great Human Race on March 29th. I left the gift of a real “Compliment Jar” for their classroom, knowing they will easily fill it up with supportive shout-outs as they learn and grow together. 

 

All hands shot up in response to my question of who runs fast, so having their names on my shirt will inspire me tomorrow during the Great Human Race. Thanks to my kindergarten friends, I will strive to reach my potential, to “run with urgency,” and to make a positive difference in the world - not just tomorrow – but every day. 

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All proceeds raised by the Partnership in the Great Human Race will go towards dental health kits. You can read more about our efforts to address Durham’s dental health crisis here. We set out to reach triple the number of children as last year by raising $3,000, and thanks to your help, we are making great progress. But we need your help in order to “run with urgency” and cross the finish line! Please visit our team page to donate, and cheer us on as we race for healthy smiles tomorrow morning in the Great Human Race!

Transition to Kindergarten begins Blast Off events at Durham elementary schools

by Administrator 26. February 2014 12:24

Tomorrow, Thurs. Feb. 27th marks the first Blast Off to Kindergarten event at Forest View Elementary. These events are a key part of the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, which prepares children and families for the transition from home or pre-school to kindergarten. 

This Initiative is a partnership between Durham’s Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools. Transition Teams have been created this year in 3 elementary schools: Forest View Elementary, Lakewood Elementary and Y.E. Smith Elementary. The transition teams are comprised of teachers, parents and school administrators, all with the common goal of wanting to make kindergarten an exciting and welcoming place for new students and families in their community.

All of the Blast Off to Kindergarten Events are designed for children and families who will be entering kindergarten in August, and participants will have an opportunity to meet the school staff, tour the school, and meet future classmates. They will also receive other resources, including information about how to register for kindergarten and a Blast Off to Kindergarten Kit full of school readiness materials and activities.  

Please click here to download a flyer for the event, and contact Transition to Kindergarten Program Coordinator Wren Davisson (wren@dpfc.net, 919.403.6960 ext. 224) for more information about the Blast Off to Kindergarten events.

Save the date for the School Readiness Summit on March 28th!

by Administrator 24. January 2014 10:31

The Partnership is pleased to announce the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy, and Action, which will take place on Friday, March 28th from 8:30am-12:30pm at The Durham Convention Center. More information coming soon!

Partnership receives grant for Transition to Kindergarten Initiative

by Administrator 9. January 2014 14:48

We’re happy to announce that we have received a $5,000 grant for the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative from the Community Care Fund of the Doing Good in the Neighborhood Campaign, coordinated by Duke University’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs (DARA). We are so grateful for the generous support of this project!

The Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is expanding, allowing us to further educate the Durham community about the importance of high quality early childhood education and school readiness. Thanks to this grant, we can double the number of Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits that will be provided for rising kindergarteners in Durham in 2014 – that’s more than 1,600 kits! The kits provide school readiness materials designed to prepare children and families for the transition from home to kindergarten.

With the help of this grant, we’ve updated and improved the kits, which contain items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. Thanks to our supportive volunteers, we will begin assembling and distributing the Kits very soon!

Please contact Krissy Dunn (krissy@dpfc.net) at the Partnership if you are interested in volunteering at an upcoming kit-building session, and visit doinggood.duke.edu to learn more about the Doing Good in the Neighborhood Campaign. 

Pictured left to right in picture above: Jenny Carolina (DARA Senior Program Coordinator), Channa Pickett (DARA Senior Program Coordinator), Wren Davisson (DPFC Program Coordinator), Laura Benson (DPFC Executive Director), Phail Wynn (DARA Vice President)

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