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Woodridge officials take part in early childhood education event

2/23/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

DOWNTOWN AKRON — More than 170 people attended an event that highlighted the Summit County Transition Skills Summary (TSS) effort Jan. 19 at the Akron Civic Theatre. While the Summit Education Initiative (SEI) event included a review of the value of the TSS and its successes in Summit County schools, the main purpose of the kick-off was to celebrate the preschools involved, in addition to their kindergarten-level partners, according to organizers.

“We were excited to see so many enthusiastic individuals participate in our event,” said Laura DiCola, SEI’s early childhood strategy leader. “Our hope, along with Child Care Connection, State Support Team Region 8, Summit County First Things First and Summit Educational Service Center, is for this event and resulting conversations to encourage more preschools to register to administer the 2017 TSS.”

The TSS is a summary of a child’s development and skills acquired during their preschool experience that is used to provide information that will continue to support the child’s progress as they enter kindergarten, according to SEI. In 2016, 110 sites, representing 2,429 students in Summit County, participated in the TSS. While SEI officials said those numbers have greatly increased since 2012, the potential remains for others to become involved.

Beth Harrington, principal of Woodridge Primary School, aims for 100 percent TSS participation within the Woodridge Local School District. So far, the district is about halfway there, she said. After meeting with Child Care Connection and State Support Team Region 8, Harrington felt encouraged to keep the conversation going in the district.

“Connections started forming once we dedicated time to visit the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority program at Honey Locust Gardens,” Harrington said. “The kids were so excited to see us. Our visits were meaningful to them but also to their families and teachers.”

From there, on Jan. 11, Harrington held the first meeting of Woodridge’s Readiness Coalition, which is a group of individuals who meet regularly to improve kindergarten readiness and elementary reading for students in a community or school district. Two-thirds of the 12 preschools and day care centers within the district attended and visited the six kindergarten classrooms at Woodridge Primary School.

“I wanted them to have exposure to the rigor of what is expected in kindergarten,” said Harrington, pictured below with participants during the meeting. While the district’s kindergarten classrooms heavily focus on academics in the morning, time for playful activities occupies the afternoon.

Harrington added she hopes to encourage more preschools within her district to register for the TSS.

“We see a high deficit in literacy, as well as social-emotional skills, once students arrive to kindergarten,” she said. “We want more of our students to be set up for success before they enter kindergarten, but instead of being reactive, we should front-load parents with educational materials they can use from birth.”

During the Jan. 19 event, DiCola distributed $500 checks to districts whose preschool and kindergarten representatives have developed Readiness Coalitions, including Woodridge. Pictured above during distribution of the checks are Harrington, second from right, and Superintendent Walter Davis at far right.

For more information, go to seisummit.org.

Photos courtesy of Summit Education Initiative

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