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. 


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)

Rising kindergartners invited to attend Countdown to Kindergarten event

by Administrator 30. July 2013 12:46

Entering kindergarten is a major transition in a young child’s life.  The Partnership and Durham Public Schools want to support you and your child to make sure this milestone in your child’s life is seamless and rewarding.  By providing informational newsletters, activity kits, and hosting special events throughout the year, our collaborative Transition to Kindergarten Initiative prepares children and their families for success.

We encourage you to participate in the transition by:

  1. Attending the Countdown to Kindergarten event, held this Friday, August 2nd from 5:45 to 8 pm at the Museum of Life and Science.  Countdown to Kindergarten is a free event for rising kindergartners and their families to get off to a smooth start for 2013-14.  Participants will have the opportunity to ride a school bus, learn about bus safety, learn about school lunch programs and meet UNC-TV characters and Dottie (the DPS kindergarten mascot).  Parents will be able to complete lunch, bus and other applications, learn about before- and after-school care programs, obtain school calendars, sign up for a library card and learn about more free resources.

    Check-in will be at the entrance of the Museum.  Inside, you can visit the Partnership booth to receive a free children’s book and fill out an “ABC’s of My Child” activity, which will help your child’s kindergarten teacher get to know your child with information directly from the parent.
  2. Visiting the Partnership’s Web site and the Durham Public Schools Web site to stay informed.
  3. Joining our mailing list – http://www.dpfc.net/signup.aspx or call Wren Davisson at (919) 403-6960 ext 224.

The Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is supported through funding from the Morgan Creek Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Intergenerational service project

by Administrator 19. July 2013 10:10

The faith community is a valuable ally in providing resources to children and families in Durham. Full of programs and agencies with a strong commitment to children and families, Durham is also home to congregations that can achieve outcomes for young children.  Through our Early Childhood Faith Initiative, the Partnership seeks input from this rich reserve, one that offers a venue for intergenerational relationship and resource building.

Most recently, as a part of the Faith Initiative’s outreach efforts, Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church committed an intergenerational service hour to further the mission of the Partnership.  About 40 congregation volunteers spent two Sunday mornings assembling “Blast off to Kindergarten” school readiness kits to help support the Partnership’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative.

Members of the congregation learned that many young children in Durham do not have access to books or supplies like puzzles, scissors, crayons and paper that stimulate young minds and prepare them for success in school.  Research shows that in low-income neighborhoods and households experiencing poverty, you would only find a single book for every 300 children (Neuman & Dickinson: Handbook of Early Literacy Research).

The “Blast off to Kindergarten” kits contain items that encourage creative and imaginative play, such as:
• Draw a Picture Tell a Story booklets in which children can create an image and have their parents record the story of that image
• Emotion flash cards so children can learn to identify emotions in themselves and their classmates
• Building blocks that allow for color and shape recognition as children plan and build figures

At Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church, children and adults of all ages participated in assembling the kits for distribution.  To follow up on the kit building activity, congregation volunteers will visit Genesis House to read to preschoolers as well as to share and explain the kits to rising kindergartners and their families.  What a unique way for all ages to work together to make a difference for young children in Durham!

If you or your organization would like to contribute time and talent to a Partnership volunteer project, please contact Krissy at (919) 403-6960 ext. 230 or krissy@dpfc.net.  Click here to read about our volunteer opportunities.

Transition to Kindergarten field trip

by Administrator 18. June 2013 11:40

In early spring, the Partnership announced the 11 recipients of our Transition to Kindergarten mini-grants. These are projects created collaboratively between elementary schools and child care centers that support rising kindergartners and their families so they are best equipped to enter kindergarten.

Many of the transition-themed activities created through the mini-grant process are currently being implemented in preschool and kindergarten settings across Durham.  We are proud to see these creative projects unfold and are grateful for funding from Wells Fargo and Morgan Creek Foundation that make our TTK Initiative possible. 

One of the mini-grant projects, a full day kindergarten experience designed and implemented by Toddler’s Academy, Inc. and Pearsontown Elementary – was featured in today’s Herald-Sun.

» Read the article in full here.

The TTK Initiative is a collaborative project of the Partnership and Durham Public Schools that provides specific experiences that prepare children for successful entrance into kindergarten and that prepare schools to receive children and their families.  For more information on TTK, visit our Web page and look for the launch of our rebranded TTK Web site in July!

Celebrating Dorian and his teachers

by Administrator 7. May 2013 11:04

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and today is National Teacher Day.  Thousands of communities nationwide are taking the time to honor our educators who commit themselves wholeheartedly to making sure students receive a quality education.  It is important to take a moment to thank those teachers who have made a difference in the life of a child. 

At the Partnership, our mission is that every child in Durham County receives a high-quality early education so that they enter school healthy and ready to succeed.  We believe that children and families should have access to the highest quality early childhood programs based on what research has demonstrated as best practice.  The Partnership’s investment in birth to five ensures that young children are receiving support from highly-trained early educators.

We know the impact that an early educator makes on the first 2,000 days of a child’s life.  These professionals are dedicated to shaping the lives of young children, providing healthy and nurturing environments for our youngest learners, and contributing to school readiness.  For that and so much more, we thank them.

What better way to show our gratitude than by celebrating the accomplishments of Dorian, a former student of the 5-star Brown’s Day Care Center in Durham.

Dorian is 6 years old and is currently a kindergarten student at Oakview Elementary School in High Point.  Last year, Dorian was enrolled in the NC Pre-K program at Brown’s Day Care.  His teachers were Ms. Brittany, Mrs. DeShondra, Ms. Rosie, and Ms. Cheryl Brown (the owner and director).  Dorian has two younger brothers, he loves to read books about dinosaurs, and his favorite school subject is art.  When he grows up, Dorian wants to be an FBI agent, artist, or serve in the military.  Dorian was very excited about his first day of kindergarten.

Dorian knows that his time in pre-k at Brown’s made a big impact in his life.  As he tells us, Dorian’s teachers were great because they understood him and always had work for him to do. He loved the “do it yourself breakfast” because it gave him a feeling of responsibility to prepare his own plate. His teachers kept him engaged at all times, providing him challenging activities each day.
“Dorian has accomplished many wonderful achievements since he started kindergarten,” said Dorian’s mom, Mushianah. “He has received a total of six awards to date. The awards were for leadership, art, PE, math, and AR reading. I would just like to thank [the teachers at Brown’s] for laying down that foundation for my baby boy. He has excelled past the expectations of his teachers! God bless you and your school for all the effort and hard work you put into helping our children start on their journey to success! While at Brown’s Day Care, I think the journal entry and sight word activities were very important; they helped set the foundation for his reading. The teachers at Brown’s care so much for our kids’ well-being and their future success – they put their all into teaching them everything and more.”

Dorian offers some Tips for Success to rising kindergartners:

  • Listen to your teachers
  • Be a great leader
  • Read a book for 20 minutes daily
  • Always do your homework on time
  • Treat people the way you want to be treated
  • Make lots of friends
  • Have fun!

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