Grant helps children prepare for kindergarten
Council on Child & Youth Development awarded three-year school readiness grant
Teacher Assistant Evon Muñoz reviews the schedule for the morning with her students using visual schedule cards. The cards are a new part of classrooms at the Port Naz Christian Academy in Porterville, placed as part of an instructional improvement plan designed to better prepare students for success in kindergarten. Academy director Karen Pitcher reports that she and her staff developed three goals as part of their improvement plan: to address the needs of children with behavioral or other special needs; to set up classrooms to accommodate these children; and to incorporate the use of visual schedules for the benefit of all children.
Ms. Pitcher and teachers at the Port Naz Christian Academy are getting help to implement their goals through the new School Readiness Improvement Program (SRIP) offered by the Tulare County Council on Child and Youth Development. The SRIP program was created from a three-year grant awarded to the Council by First 5 Tulare County.
The goal of the program is to adequately prepare children for Kindergarten — whether it’s a transitional or traditional program — by implementing a coaching model to help teachers provide high quality care that meets their students’ needs developmentally, linguistically and culturally. The program is also designed to involve parents so that they gain the skills needed to sustain the instruction. “First 5 Tulare County is proud to be partnering with the Tulare County Office of Education to enhance the quality of our early education workforce through the School Readiness Improvement Program,” said Janet Hogan, executive director of First 5 Tulare County. “The Council on Child and Youth Development is to be commended for putting together a strong program.”
Several classrooms at Port Naz Christian Academy are receiving coaching services from veteran early childhood educators Selina Chavez and Lisa Pace. This fall, Ms. Chavez and Ms. Pace have been working with teachers at the academy to implement the goals set by the staff. “By working with the teachers and then following-up every two weeks, we are able to see that everyone in the classroom builds the skills they need to meet the goals,” said Ms. Chavez. Several other centers around the county are receiving similar coaching services.
The School Readiness Improvement Program is offered to private, subsidized and family child care programs throughout the county in cohorts of 16 teachers over a 15-week period. Participants are chosen through an application and interview process and two cohorts will be offered per year. Participating programs receive coaching services for approximately seven hours per week for the 15 weeks.
“The program is designed to be completely collaborative,” said Tina Shirley, Council Coordinator. “Coaches work with their assigned centers to develop an improvement plan to increase the quality of the program, and then implement it through planning and goal-setting, observation, modeling, and problem solving.” Based on the improvement plan, Ms. Shirley reports that coaching services can address any or all of the following areas: curriculum support, classroom management, behavior management, family/community resources, environmental support, parent partnership support, technical support, inclusion support and special needs referrals. In addition to the coaching services, participating programs will have access to specialized training for their staff as well as the parents/guardians of the children in the program.
Applications are now being accepted for the Spring 2013 program. For more information, contact Tina Shirley or Elvia Guerrero, School Readiness Improvement Specialist, at (559) 651-2427.
Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
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