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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

  • David Douglas Makes Strides for English Language Learners

    David Douglas studentAt the Children’s Institute we are very proud of our colleagues at David Douglas this week. The district was identified on November 5 by the Oregon Department of Education as one of just 8 districts in the state to meet benchmarks for English Language Learners around language proficiency. There are an estimated 70 languages spoken among students at David Douglas.

    Every year Oregon Department of Education releases the Annual Measurable Achievement Objective report which describes the progress districts are making in helping English Language Learners gain proficiency. The state’s goals are determined through work with the federal government and are organized in three categories:

    • Progress of English Language Learners toward learning English
    • Percent of English Language Learners who become proficient in English
    • Progress of English Language Learners in learning academic content

    We have seen first-hand in our work with David Douglas their commitment to engaging families and helping students learn. The Children’s Institute has been partnering with David Douglas for three years on an early learning initiative. Called Early Works, the project is a collaboration with many community partners to leverage public funding and help students arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and go on to meet critical third-grade benchmarks.

    Other school districts meeting all three goals are Cascade, Centennial, Culver, Eagle Point, Hermiston, Lake Oswego, and McMinnville.

    Congratulations and thank you to the educators at David Douglas and across the state who are working to help English Language Learners thrive!

    Read more

  • Head Start, Earl Boyles give and take over preschool

    preschool-family-mealIn three years, the Early Works initiative has forged system change between a school district and one Head Start program, a change that at the outset seemed almost impossible.

    Three years ago, the Children’s Institute started an early learning demonstration project with community partners including Mt. Hood Community College Head Start, Multnomah Early Childhood Early Education/Early Intervention, David Douglas School District, and Earl Boyles Elementary. The partners planned an unusual arrangement: to use these publicly funded programs in harmony in one school, in order to maximize the program’s benefits for children in this high-needs community in Southeast Portland.

    The partners began with one classroom of 3- and 4-year-olds, squeezed among the existing elementary classes. Today, among other features, the initiative includes three newly constructed early learning classrooms and a courtyard with equipment designed especially for young children.

    The journey has involved learning and growth for everyone involved. An example is the way that the staff and teachers at the school have learned to blend Head Start protocol and regulations with the elementary curriculum.

    On a recent Tuesday morning, six 3- and 4-year-olds sat around a table practicing the letter P while teaching aid James Sanford guided them. “Up, down, around,” he said, “What sound does P make again?”

    “This is a great example of the ways we are aligning the preschool curriculum and practice with that of the rest of the school,” says Principal Ericka Guynes, observing Sanford with the students. “We know what the Creative Curriculum standards are around literacy for kindergarten and we’re helping to make sure that these kids will meet them.”

    Mt. Hood Community College Head Start Program Manager Pam Greenough Corrie says this emphasis on literacy and preparation for kindergarten is something that the Head Start staff has understood with a new urgency as a result of this partnership. “I do think we have learned a lot more about public schools and their expectations and how they function,” she says.

    Even small things such as walking in a line down the hall or sitting still in groups, Corrie says were not necessarily part of their Head Start practice before the Early Works program. After three years of operating in a school environment, she says, she understands how beneficial it is for kids to practice these skills before they reach kindergarten.

    Conversely, Guynes says the Head Start program has influenced the elementary school in small and big ways – the most notable of these in the way they think about not only academic but social-emotional development in early childhood. A big part of this social emotional development is family engagement. “We’ve learned to relate to families and welcome them in a whole new way as a result of Head Start,” says Guynes. Federal Head Start protocol includes significant interaction and engagement with parents, including regular meetings and home visits on behalf of teachers.

    Guynes says this is both a formal and informal change, from the relationships between parents and students to the organized home visits the teachers do with their students. “The Head Start program has taught us about the importance of meeting parents where they are,” she says.

    In fact, this culture change has affected not only into the preschool but the other grades as well. After seeing first-hand the impact that home visiting can have on families, the kindergarten teachers at Earl Boyles independently organized and planned to do their own home visiting this year.

    Despite the increased number of preschoolers in the 2014-15 school year — there are roughly 90 students between the three classes — Corrie says she feels the preschool has reached a point where the teachers and staff need less support from outside partners. “They really have a team that has their own expertise, and they can build on each other’s expectations and experience,” says Corrie. “So we can scale back a bit.”

    This harmony is easy to see on any given day in the preschool classroom, where 3- and 4-year-olds easily transition from academic practices such as understanding patterns and letter and name recognition to social emotional development such as teeth brushing and eating family-style in the classroom.

    On one recent morning, 3- and 4-year-olds sat around the table eating a meal of apple sauce, tater tots, cheeseburgers and corn. “Before we use the ketchup, let’s set up our table,” teaching aid Sanford said gently to one little girl. In response she quietly put her ketchup bottle down, identified her name using her nametag at the table, and sat down patiently to wait for her classmates to join her.

    Read more

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