ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- One of the top priorities of the Rockford public school district is to get as many students enrolled in early childhood education programs as possible. It’s a goal that inspired a special seminar Saturday that brought District 205 teachers and administrators together with other area pre-school providers.
The group included teachers from the Rockford Head Start program, educators from Circles of Learning, representatives from the YWCA and others. They heard from a University of Wisconsin researcher who studies the impact on these types of programs on low income kids. Then the group discussed some of their shared values and objectives for in order to create a community wide early education initiative.
“These kids, this is our next generation coming up and we want to be able to support them and help them be successful not matter what road they take," says teacher Michele Irlacher.
“We believe that all children in this community need some kind of high quality early childhood experience that won't all necessary be in our system but it is important to bring key stakeholders together," says District 205 Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett.
The group came up with some ideas on how to improve local pre-school programs such as including more parents in the conversation and persuading the community to take a more active role in kids’ education.
“Kids who attend an early childhood program do better when they become adults, they graduate from high school, they go to college, they get good jobs and that's what we need. An investment in early education now will pay dividends when they’re adults," says George Richardson, the principal at the Dennis Early Childhood Center.
The group divided up tasks to work on over the next few months, including networking with the county health department and other local health care providers to give information to patients in pre-school.