Early Childhood Education and Career Summit
Having worked as a pre-k advocate and a classroom teacher, I know that there is more than one way to influence the realm of early childhood education. We need people on all levels -- national, state, local, and school -- to understand the benefits of pre-k and work relentlessly together to advance educational opportunities for our youngest children. For this reason, I was truly inspired to attend the Early Childhood Education and Career Summit hosted by Teach For America and CityBridge Foundation this past weekend.
The summit was designed to help second year Teach For America early childhood corps members -- teachers who are in the final year of their Teach For America teaching commitment -- understand the myriad of ways that they can stay involved and influence early childhood education in the future. We heard from expert teachers who have taken on leadership roles within their schools, policy experts who are working to close the achievement gap, education entrepreneurs who have developed creative strategies to increase student achievement, and an employee from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education who oversees early childhood education in Washington, D.C. Additionally, we had the opportunity to learn from a Washington, D.C. school board member and council member, both of whom are tremendous supporters of pre-kindergarten education.
Hearing from such passionate advocates -- from teachers to policy makers -- was truly inspiring. It was fascinating to hear how each person got "hooked on" pre-k, and how they've been working relentlessly to increase the quality of and access to pre-k for all 3 and 4 year olds in the country.
I'm energized to think beyond the classroom about how I can have the greatest effect on the educational trajectories of young children. Having high-quality teachers is one piece of the puzzle, but it's not the ultimate solution. I firmly believe that to truly close the achievement gap, we need a "massive force of leaders who have the insight and conviction that comes from teaching in low-income communities" (Teach For America, Our Mission and Approach).