Vail Rotary sets up education program for early childhood
VAIL — The Vail Rotary Club and The Children’s Garden of Learning, an early childhood center, are working together to build an early childhood education outreach program called The Vail Rotary Learning Initiative.
The partnership, which began in September, creates a pre-school education program that will provide tools for learning to pre-school children who are not enrolled in a traditional school environment. The home caregivers in the inaugural program will receive specific training on how to use the materials provided, and they will also receive coaching and mentoring from a Children’s Garden of Learning teacher.
‘PREPARE FOR KINDERGARTEN’
Kathy Brendza, executive director of The Children’s Garden of Learning, said the program evolved from an awareness of the disparity in pre-school education that exists in our community.
“After working at Children’s Garden for a while, and because of other programs I have been involved in,” noted Brendza, “I realized that we needed to find a way to give back to the community. Our school has a vast array of materials that we can share. I knew there was a network of home caregivers in the community, and so I thought we should try to reach out to our neighbors to help other pre-school children who need to prepare for kindergarten.”
Vail Rotary Club has a long history of supporting education in the Valley by awarding scholarships to graduating high school seniors and through participation in the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program. Rotary International encourages local clubs to support programs that “strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy.”
The Vail Rotary Club provided a grant of $20,000 to fund this initiative.
“Investing in our pre-school children is the best money we can spend,” said Rotary President Regina O’Brien. “If children are behind when they enter kindergarten, they never catch up. If we can have all kindergartners enter on a level playing field, everyone wins.”
Another partner in this program is Bright By Three, a Colorado nonprofit organization that produces educational materials created especially for caregivers of pre-school children. These developmental materials, which are in both English and Spanish, will be given to parents with additional instruction. An automated parental informational text message is also available to all parents.
The goals of the program focus on evidence-based development gains; throughout the year learning benchmarks will be created for each child. Expected results for the children include entering kindergarten with enhanced literacy skills, being ready to learn and developing a love of learning that will set a foundation for success. Expected results for the home care providers include becoming the child’s first teacher, raising awareness in their communities about school readiness and acting as advocates for the children and their parents.
For more information, go to http://www.vailrotary.com.