Attendance Awareness Month starts today

by Administrator 1. September 2015 13:40

September is Attendance Awareness Month, a nationwide recognition of the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. Started in 2013 by Attendance Works, the goal of this month is to mobilize schools and communities  to promote the value of good attendance and to address the largely hidden crisis of chronic absenteeism. To kick off the month, Attendance Works has released a new report highlighting how chronic absenteeism is a significant cause of the achievement gap starting as early as kindergarten. 

Chronic absenteeism refers to a child missing 10 percent of school days for any reason – excused and unexcused, including in-school suspensions. Research shows that this is the point when students start to fall behind academically because they have missed too many school days.

According to the report, absenteeism rates among kindergartners, particularly low-income and minority children, are nearly as high as those among high school freshmen. An estimated 1 in 10 kindergartners misses at least 18 days of school, or nearly a month of class, per year. Chronic absence in kindergarten can leave third-graders unable to read proficiently, sixth-graders struggling with coursework, and high school students off track for graduation. The missed days in a student’s earliest years are a significant precursor to reduced levels of school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.

When young children are absent, it’s most often due to health. Asthma and tooth decay are among the leading causes of absences, along with other mental or physical health problems suffered by children and their families. By raising awareness of chronic absenteeism and monitoring how many days each student misses school for any reason— excused, unexcused or suspensions— schools have the best chance at being able to intervene early.

“Poor attendance is among our first and best warning signs that a student has missed the on-ramp to school success and is headed off track for graduation,” the Attendance Works report says. “We must address attendance and its connection to public health early in a child’s life.”

To learn more about Attendance Awareness Month and to download resources to use in the classroom, community and at home, please click here.

For additional research about kindergarten attendance, please click here.

Kick-off to Kindergarten events celebrate the first day of school

by Administrator 28. August 2015 11:27

This week, we had the pleasure of welcoming young learners to their first day of kindergarten at 5 elementary schools in Durham! The “Kick-off to Kindergarten” celebration is part of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration with Durham Public Schools, and is the culmination of a series of events at our Transition Team schools designed to make kindergarten an exciting and welcoming place for new students and families.


At E.K. Powe Elementary, Forest View Elementary, Glenn Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, and Y.E. Smith Elementary, groups of volunteers greeted the incoming kindergartners and families with cheers, high-fives, bubbles, stickers and smiling faces. Entering kindergarten is one of the most significant milestones in a young child’s life, and it’s something that deserves to be celebrated! Making the first day of school an exciting and welcoming one makes a huge difference in a child's entire academic career. 


Thanks to the work of the TTK Initiative throughout-out the spring and summer, many of the children and families we saw at the Kick-off to Kindergarten event had already been to their new schools, met the teachers and school staff, and even made friends with their classmates. Across all of our Transition Team schools, 48% of the estimated rising classes attended at least one transition event before the first day of school. At one school, 95% of their incoming class participated in a TTK event! 


We’re grateful to our wonderful volunteers – from community groups and individuals, to corporate groups, to members of the Board of Education – who joined us this week and helped make the first day of school a lot less scary and a lot more fun! 


We hope that even more children and families in Durham will be able to have this experience when starting kindergarten next year! For more information about the TTK Initiative and to find out how you can be involved, please visit

Rising Kindergartners enjoy Popsicles on the Playground

by Administrator 11. August 2015 12:33

The first day of school is almost here, and Durham's Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is gearing up for an exciting few weeks! Staff, transition teams and volunteers have been working hard to make sure children in Durham are ready for school. A variety of transition events have taken place throughout Durham during the spring and summer, including Popsicles on the Playground events at all of our Transition Team schools.

At Eastway’s event last week, children enjoyed frozen treats on a summer day while playing with some of their future classmates, and parents had a chance to meet other families with rising kindergartners and to receive information and resources. 


Similar events have also taken place at Lakewood Elementary and are coming up soon at Glenn Elementary (Aug. 11), Y.E. Smith Elementary (Aug. 12), E.K. Powe Elementary (Aug. 20), and Forest View Elementary (Aug. 22). For a full list of upcoming events, please click here.


Across all of our Transition Team schools, we have reached 26 – 54% of the rising kindergarten class at each school, with a total of 226 children and families attending at least one transition event so far… with 4 more events to go! Best of all, 100% of families surveyed at events said that they felt more confident about ways to prepare their child for kindergarten!

In a few weeks, we are hosting Kick Off to Kindergarten events at all 5 Transition Team schools. We will be cheering on new students and parents as they arrive for their first day of school, and it’s sure to be a fun-filled, exciting morning for everyone! We are still in need of volunteers at a couple of schools, so please come join the fun and help children feel excited and welcome in their new school! 

Countdown to Kindergarten this Friday!

by Administrator 3. August 2015 11:33

Durham Public Schools’ annual Countdown to Kindergarten at the Museum of Life and Science (433 W Murray Ave.) is this Friday, August 7th from 6-8pm. This free event for all rising kindergarteners and their families provides important information and resources and helps to promote a smooth start to the school year!

Families will have a chance to tour the exhibits, ride a school bus and learn about school bus safety, learn about school lunch programs, meet UNC-TV characters, complete lunch, bus and other applications, check out the DPS before- and after-school programs, get school calendars, and much more!

The Partnership will be at the event representing the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, providing school readiness tips and parent resources and providing free books to all children who attend. 


We are also gathering school supplies for 2 bookbags that will be donated to 2 young students at the event! If you would like to help provide supplies, please click here to sign up to purchase an item.

To download a bilingual flyer for Countdown to Kindergarten, please click here

TTK Initiative featured in Harvard Family Research Project

by Administrator 2. June 2015 16:01

Recently, Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative was featured in the Harvard Family Research Project! The TTK Initiative, a collaborative project of the Partnership and Durham Public Schools, prepares children, families and schools for a successful entrance into kindergarten from formal pre-school programs or home settings. We are honored to be recognized by such a prestigious organization!

TTK is featured as a resource for other organizations who are hoping to build a Successful Family Engagement System:

“What we know is that a system of family engagement can only be possible through partnerships-between federal and state agencies, across public and private sectors, and among families, schools, and communities. Effective partnerships can result in innovative strategies to reach more families, create meaningful conversations, and influence family engagement practices.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Thanks to the hard work of our staff and community partners, the TTK Initiative has been able to reach a large number of rising kindergartners and their families in Durham. Here are a few exciting outcomes of our work so far this year:

  • Hundreds of volunteers from Durham Tech, Fidelity, Windsor Circle, Watts Street Baptist Church, and our Early Childhood Bus Tours have assembled a total of 1,705 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits that have been distributed to children by schools and community organizations
  • We expanded to coordinate Transition Teams in 6 elementary schools, each of which hosts a series of transition events before the start of the school year. The 6 schools combined will serve approximately 630 kindergartners this year, and up to this point, 32% of rising kindergarteners have attended at least one transition event at each school.
  • We partnered with 13 community sites and engaged 60 volunteers in more than 140 hours of service during Kindergarten Registration Week. We delivered a total of nearly 2,000 registration packets to rising kindergartners in Durham through volunteers, child care centers, elementary schools, and partner agencies in the community. 

There are more TTK events coming up in July and August at all 6 Transition Team schools. Check back soon for information about how to volunteer for these fun events, and visit for a list of all upcoming events.

Fidelity volunteers build Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits

by Administrator 14. May 2015 15:37

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of hard-working volunteers from Fidelity as part of Fidelity Cares Day. More than 200 Fidelity employees in North Carolina worked with area nonprofits that day as part of a firm-wide initiative that involved more than 2,000 Fidelity colleagues across the country!

We had a great group of 15 volunteers who built 250 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits! These kits provide school readiness materials to rising kindergartners in Durham and are a key part of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) InitiativeEach one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. The kits these volunteers built were then distributed to Eastway Elementary School, one of our Transition Team schools, as well as to Merrick Moore Elementary and NC Pre-K students at private child care centers. 


We had a great time during Fidelity Cares Day and want to extend a huge thanks to Fidelity for including us and volunteering to help young children in Durham! 

The Partnership announces TTK Mini-Grant recipients

by Administrator 30. April 2015 14:19

We are pleased to announce that we have awarded Transition to Kindergarten Mini-Grants to 17 child care sites and elementary schools through our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration with Durham Public Schools. The grant amounts total $6,000 to support early educators, elementary schools and child care sites in designing and implementing transition events for their specific student and parent populations. Funds for these mini-grants were made available through gifts from Wells Fargo and the Morgan Creek Foundation. 

The TTK mini-grants allow for a targeted, community-based approach, with activities and information tailored for children and their families at each site. Last year, more than 500 families participated in transition activities at events funded by mini-grants at child care centers and schools. This year’s mini-grant recipients are projected to serve more than 1,000 rising kindergartners throughout Durham through activities such as summer transition camps, student portfolios, field trips to kindergarten classrooms, and kindergarten parent nights.

The 2015 Mini-Grant recipients are:

  • Bambinos Playschool
  • Bethesda Elementary
  • Chamberlain Learning Center
  • Creekside Elementary
  • Durham Head Start
  • Easley Elementary
  • Harvest Learning Center
  • Holt Elementary
  • Kiddie Kollege
  • Little River Elementary
  • Mangum Elementary
  • Oak Grove Elementary
  • Primary Colors Early Learning Center
  • RN Harris Magnet School
  • Sandy Ridge Elementary
  • Spring Valley Elementary
  • The Goddard School.

In addition to the mini-grants, rising kindergartners and their families benefit from other TTK activities such as Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, Kindergarten Registration Week, and Transition Team events at six DPS elementary schools. The Transition Teams, comprised of teachers, parents and school administrators, have implemented a series of events for rising kindergartners and their families this spring and before the school year starts in August. 

To see a list of all upcoming events, please visit


Thank you for celebrating Week of the Young Child with us

by Administrator 17. April 2015 15:06

As Week of the Young Child comes to an end, we’d like to say thank you to our local government and community leaders! We have extraordinary support at both the City and County government levels. Our collaborations and mutual accountability run deep – from distribution of public dollars, to partnerships and initiatives, to Board and Committee membership. Our local government’s work in addressing the needs of Durham’s residents has guided our work for 20 years and makes a difference in the lives of children.

Both the Durham City Council and the Durham County Board of County Commissioners recognized the annual Week of the Young Child celebration with a Proclamation, both of which recognized the following: 

-Making sure children are ready to learn is a community endeavor that involves parents, child care providers, policy makers, businesses, congregations and community agencies.

-Transition to kindergarten must be a smooth, coordinated process for children, parents, and schools that greatly minimizes the achievement gap.

To honor these important principles, we designated this year's Week of the Young Child as Kindergarten Registration Week, a collaborative, community-wide effort in partnership with Durham Public Schools. It’s our hope that Kindergarten Registration Week will become an annual event to support children and families as they prepare to enter school, and thanks to your help this year, we are well on our way!  

One of our goals for Kindergarten Registration Week was to bring together groups from all sectors of the community, because school readiness is everybody's business. Registration information has been spread far and wide across Durham - at grocery stores and local businesses, hospitals, child care centers, public agencies - by our community partners and more than 100 volunteers. Our volunteers have been a diverse group, ranging from corporate teams, to high school and college students, to civic groups, and even members of the Board of Education. We called on the whole community to get involved and make a commitment to Durham's future, and we are thrilled at how much the Durham community has rallied behind this cause. 

Thank you for your support, and thank you for celebrating Week of the Young Child and Kindergarten Registration Week with us!

Graduate Durham begins long before senior year

by Administrator 13. April 2015 13:07

This week, Week of the Young Child, is Durham’s first ever Kindergarten Registration Week! Throughout the week and all across Durham, volunteers will be distributing registration packets to rising kindergartners and their families. Yesterday, the Herald-Sun featured an article written by Laura Benson (Partnership Executive Director) and Bert L'Homme (Superintendent of Durham Public Schools) about why kindergarten registration is so important for the long-term success of our children and our community. Please read the excerpt below, and click here for the full article. 

Entering kindergarten is one of the most significant events that a young child experiences. It sets the tone for his or her entire educational experience and lays the foundation for future success in school and life. At Durham Public Schools and Durham’s Partnership for Children, our goal is for every child in Durham to enter kindergarten feeling excited, ready to learn and supported by their school, family and community.

National research shows that nearly 50 percent of children have difficulty with the transition to kindergarten. A smooth transition is a shared responsibility among many individuals and institutions, and it is out of this shared duty that Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative was born. This deeply collaborative effort between DPS and the Partnership hopes to ensure a smooth start to school, setting a tone for life-long learning as well as empowering parents to become active participants in their children’s education.

On-time enrollment and attendance on the first day of kindergarten are key factors to a quality start to school. For some schools, only a fraction of the projected kindergarteners are enrolled and attend class on day one.  When children are not registered on time, it creates difficulties for our schools, the teachers and the families. A smooth transition to school allows for the child and the family to meet their new teachers and become comfortable and familiar with their new school. Unfortunately, when a child enrolls late, it is harder to make the connection between the families and their new schools before the first day.

In 2013, Durham Public Schools had 344 kindergarteners register during the first 40 days of school. This means that almost 10 percent of the rising kindergarten class missed the very first days of their academic career, putting them behind their classmates from the start.

Children who are absent on the first day of kindergarten are more likely to be chronically absent all the way through high school, missing 10 percent of the academic year each year. These early absences have far-reaching and long-term consequences, especially for those students who need school the most and are sometimes getting the least. Chronic absence in kindergarten can leave third-graders unable to read proficiently, sixth-graders struggling with coursework, and high school students off track for graduation. The missed days in a student’s earliest years are a significant precursor to reduced levels of school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.

So how do we turn this around?

Our best opportunity to reverse this trend lies in early childhood. We must have a unified effort to help children and families make a smooth transition into kindergarten, starting with being registered and present on the first day of school.

We are calling on the whole community to get involved and make a commitment to Durham’s future. Think about what you can do within your own family, your place of business, and your own neighborhood to help get more children registered and in school. Volunteer to help us spread the word this week during Kindergarten Registration Week. Make the first day of school for all children a priority. Join us in our effort to prepare children to succeed, and help us make every day count as we work from the start to graduate Durham.

Please click here for the full article.
Please click here to sign up to volunteer this week! 

NC Pre-K directors receive Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits

by Administrator 9. April 2015 15:44

This afternoon, NC Pre-K directors received more than 300 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits and kindergarten registration packets to be distributed to NC Pre-K students at 13 child care centers!

The Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits are a key component of the 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. Thanks to a grant from the Community Care Fund of the Doing Good in the Neighborhood Campaign, coordinated by Duke University’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs, we were able to build 1,600 kits this year. All of the kits are compiled by volunteers, and the ones given out to NC Pre-K students today were built by the awesome team at Windsor Circle.

The kindergarten registration packets are part of the upcoming Kindergarten Registration Week. The packets provide parents with all of the information and forms they need to ease the process of registering for school. We've taken a multi-pronged approach to reach as many rising kindergartners in the community as possible. The packets distributed today will go to NC Pre-K students in private child care centers, and packets have also been distributed to DPS classrooms and rising kindergartners at nearly 30 other child care centers and community agencies. 

Additionally, we are partnering with some wonderful local businesses in order to meet families out in the community. Volunteers will be stationed at these businesses throughout Durham all week to distribute registration packets to parents of young children. We are still in need of volunteers, so please sign up for an open slot and take part in the important work of preparing children for school.

With your help, we hope to reach thousands of rising kindergartners and their parents and make this inaugural event a huge success! 

Please click on this link to sign up to volunteer. Thank you for your help and your commitment to young children in Durham!

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