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Early Works Update, Spring to Summer 2014


earlyworks logoEarl Boyles Elementary:
Preschool Planning. Approximately 70 families of 3- and 4-year-old children completed their Earl Boyles preschool application in May. The 90 preschool spots available in the new Early Learning Wing are nearly filled. Educators are excited to be part of building a system at Earl Boyles that seamlessly aligns early childhood with the elementary years. More than 50 candidates applied for the two available preschool teaching positions, and the final teaching team includes a mix of expertise in kindergarten, Head Start, and Early Childhood Special Education.
Family Engagement. The 2013-14 school year focused on making Parents United systems sustainable and building leadership. 2014-15 will focus on increasing birth-to-8 family engagement and health services in the new Earl Boyles Neighborhood Center.
Health. Early Works partners launched a Health Committee this spring and are preparing for a Community Health Assessment. The assessment will ultimately inform the visioning process for the Neighborhood Center, which will open this fall.


Yoncalla Elementary:
Building Community. Yoncalla hosted a successful Dr. Seuss night with 327 attendees that had the dual purpose of increasing the number of families that see the school as a place they are welcome and connecting families to needed services. The school hosted a smaller Geography Night in June that drew 100 attendees to involve families in student learning. Local leadership is already planning for the 2014-15 school year.
Family Engagement. The Family Room, located at the school, is open and hosting programs for families. Becca Pope, the AmeriCorps staffer who manages the Family Room, is hosting weekly playgroups for families with children birth to 5, and has had 10 families participate so far. She's also facilitating volunteer opportunities to support the K-3 teachers and bringing in guest speakers for families with small children and K-3 teachers.
Child Care and Early Education. The child care/educator work group has agreed to ensure local preschool and child care providers in Yoncalla receive professional development on child assessments that could inform their work with children.

Early Works Blogs

  • Preschool Boosts Reading Skills Later

    Class of 2025 OPBIn its Class of 2025 series, this week OPB discusses about the preschool at Earl Boyles Elementary and its positive impact on students.

    "Kids who are in high-quality preschool — particularly low-income kids — are far more likely to graduate from high school,” said Swati Adarkar of the Portland-based Children’s Institute. “They’re far more likely to go on to college, they’re far more likely not to need special education as they go on in the elementary grades. These are all huge game-changers."

    Listen in

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  • Effective school practice requires relationships with families, says expert

    MIYB 2015At the Children's Institute's seventh annual Make It Your Business event on Friday, Dr. Karen Mapp of Harvard's Graduate School of Education spoke about the importance of building partnerships among families, schools and communities. Mapp emphasized that family engagement is about more than just parent groups and fundraising – it's about collaboration.

    "Our families aren't our clients; they're our partners, our co-producers, our co-creators," Mapp said. She noted that partnering with families is different in each community, depending on community and school culture and priorities. However, there are guidelines schools can build on, Mapp said.

    Last year, Mapp worked with the U.S. Department of Education to develop a framework for the development of family-school partnerships. The framework succinctly lists conditions that must be in place to build effective family-school partnerships. For example, engagement opportunities must be interactive and linked to learning. Family engagement must also be systemic at a school or in a district; it must be prioritized by all teachers and staff to be effective.

    Another key component is that these programs have to be intentional about relationship-building, Mapp said. "A lot of times," Mapp said, "educators go into communities and say: 'We got this. Our parents are poor, they don't speak English. We're there to save them, to help them.' No. They have funds of knowledge that we need to do our job."

    Ultimately, Mapp said, family engagement isn't just about grades and test scores. It's about getting the community engaged so that they can participate in the decision-making and leadership process. The Oregonian covered Mapp's speech and the event. Click here to see a video of Mapp's presentation.

    Mapp's presentation was the keynote address in an event program all about family engagement. Children's Institute President and CEO Swati Adarkar opened the program to applause when she said, "I am energized by the growing support and understanding of the importance of early childhood development. It's about time. The evidence and research is abundantly clear. Supporting a child's education and success requires a true partnership with parents."

    The rest of the event program took a deeper look at effective family engagement practices here in Oregon. The third annual Alexander Award was presented to Sue Miller, co-founder of the Family Building Blocks Relief Nursery, which serves at-risk young children and their families in Marion and Polk counties.

    The annual video slide presentation featured two Oregon families the Children's Institute has come to know through its Early Works initiative at Earl Boyles Elementary in Portland's David Douglas School District and Yoncalla Elementary in Yoncalla. Through the initiative, the families have become engaged with their elementary schools. "They're continuing to fight and win, on behalf of their children, against challenges that can seem daunting," said Chris Tebben, master of ceremonies for the event and Children's Institute board chair. "It's so inspiring to see the hard work that parents do every day to help their children succeed."

    VideoPremiere WebRes AW-52Adriana Larraga of Padres Unidos/Parents United, a parent leadership group at Earl Boyles Elementary, kicked off the fundraising appeal by telling the audience about the difference engaging with Earl Boyles has made in her life and the lives of her children. She spoke eloquently about her fears when she first approached the school and her subsequent sense of feeling welcomed and empowered by the teachers, staff, other parents, and partners like the Children's Institute. She urged everyone in the room to visit the school and see "the little stars, who are the future important people of Oregon."

    About 400 business, community and education leaders attended the event to support the work of the Children's Institute. The event's presenting sponsor was the Cambia Health Foundation. Twenty-four other individuals, corporations and non-profits also helped sponsor the event. Everyone's support is truly appreciated, says Tebben. Community support helps the Children's Institute "invest in early education and change outcomes for Oregon's most vulnerable children."

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