On July 21, 2014, Durham’s Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools presented the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action, sponsored in part by PNC Bank. Nearly 150 community members – from school teachers and administrators, to elected officials, to business leaders, to volunteers – came together to learn more about the importance of a child’s transition to kindergarten and the collaborative effort of preparing children for success in school.
At the Summit, with the help of featured guest Ken Smythe-Leistico, a national consultant and expert on transition to kindergarten from the University of Pittsburgh, attendees learned how to blend strategies that tie parent engagement, child development, welcoming schools, and community support into a successful transition for all children in our city.
The Summit began with a presentation about why transition is so important, in which he explained how entering kindergarten sets the tone for a child’s educational experience for many years to come and lays the foundation for future success in school. He then asked the audience to dig deeper by examining community partnerships and sharing examples and stories from the incredibly successful Ready Freddy: Pathways to Kindergarten Success program that he developed at the University of Pittsburgh. The event wrapped up with action planning at each table, forming relationships and sparking ideas about transition strategies that can be implemented in our city.
If you weren’t able to attend the Summit, the presentations and a full video recording are available here.
During the Summit, many people asked about what is already happening here in Durham – and because of the work of the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative (TTK), we can happily report that it’s a lot! TTK is a collaborative effort between the Partnership and DPS. Sponsored in part by the Morgan Creek Foundation and Wells Fargo, the initiative helps prepare children, families and schools for a successful entrance into kindergarten from formal pre-school programs or home settings.
This past year has seen the implementation of Transition Teams at four DPS schools; distribution of Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits with school readiness resources through agencies across Durham; mini-grants awarded to 16 child care centers and public schools to support transition events; the development of a Transition to Kindergarten mascot – Ready Eddy – and a website for information and resources; and teacher and community workshops, such as the Summit!
We have seen huge success from the targeted, community-based activities of the TTK Initiative this year, and we know that this work is making an impact. Transition Team events in our four pilot schools reached up to 48% of the incoming kindergarten class at each school, and 100% of families surveyed at events said that they felt more confident about ways to prepare their child for kindergarten.
But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. School readiness is everybody’s business, and we need your help in carrying out the critical effort of making sure our children are ready for school!
For more information about the TTK Initiative and to find out how you can get involved, please visit the TTK website and contact the Partnership’s TTK Program Coordinator Wren Davisson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-403-6960 ext. 224.