Raise the Profile of Pre-K

Calling all pre-k supporters! Next Wednesday, October 17th, Pre-K Now (the sponsor of this blog) is holding its 3rd annual national satellite conference, and we invite you to participate.

This free event - which you can attend at any of more than 100 sites - brings local pre-k advocacy communities together to recognize recent achievements, learn about the advocacy strategies that made them possible, and plan activities for the campaigns still ahead.  The uniting factor is a 2-hour televised broadcast featuring how-to interviews and live commentary from leaders in the pre-k movement.  The program will include:

  • Strategies for collaboration, outreach, grassroots campaigns, and candidate education;
  • Interviews with legislators and governors about the advocacy efforts that helped them move their pre-k proposals forward and move pre-k to the top of the public agenda; and
  • Local brainstorming and planning activities to take the lessons shared and apply them to the pre-k environment in your area.

As part of the broadcast, we'll hear from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, U.S. Sen. Robert Casey (PA), U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY), U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono (HI), and State Rep. Harry Moberly (KY).

Whether you're a seasoned advocate or just getting your feet wet, this conference is a unique opportunity to connect with the pre-k movement across the country and to gain new ideas for raising pre-k's profile at city hall, in the state house, and on Capitol Hill.

Search for a viewing site near you and register free here.

- Matt Mulkey, Internet Communications Manager, Pre-K Now

P.S. In a couple of weeks, we'll be introducing two new bloggers on Inside Pre-K, so be sure to check back around the end of October.  And, to long-time readers, thanks for your patience while we sought out excellent pre-k educators to share their stories and lead a vibrant discussion.

October 11, 2007

Take Us Inside Your Pre-K Classroom

Are you a pre-k teacher who'd like to share your high-quality classroom with readers across the nation? Know a pre-k teacher who would?

Pre-K Now is searching for another outstanding pre-k teacher to bring the children, activities, and teaching practices of a high-quality classroom to Inside Pre-K. Please help us find the right person. Grab and pass along this Weblog Contributor job description (PDF) and encourage teachers you know to send in applications.

We've sponsored this blog to give parents, educators, policymakers, and journalists a look at high-quality pre-k on a human scale. Here, readers can follow along, day by day, as real children gain important social, emotional, and academic skills over the course of a year. With a dedicated, articulate teacher leading the way, readers can learn how the science of early childhood development connects with activities in the classroom, and can contribute their own observations and questions.

We'd like to thank Sophia, once again, for getting Inside Pre-K off the ground and running. The same great intelligence, commitment, and energy evident in her teaching were also present in each of her blog entries. We wish you all the best in your new job, Sophia!

- Matt Mulkey, Internet Communications Manager, Pre-K Now

July 06, 2007

Expanding My Impact

This time of year is always bitter sweet. I must separate from the students and families with whom I have built relationships for the past ten months, and yet those students leave me with a social and academic foundation that will facilitate their success in the future.

Those mixed feelings are particularly pronounced this year, as I’ve decided to leave the classroom and take a leadership position with Teach For America.  Rather than preparing to receive a new class of four year olds this fall, I will be working to bring cohorts of new teachers to pre-k classrooms across the country as the Director of Growth and Development for TFA’s Early Childhood Education initiative.  Placement sites range from Camden, New Jersey and New York City to Houston, Texas and South Dakota.  Teach For America’s focus on early childhood supports our overall mission to close the achievement gap.  As we select, train, and support teachers committed to laying a strong academic and social foundation during a crucial stage in their students’ development, we hope to expand those students’ opportunities for success in school and beyond. 

I will certainly miss directly impacting my students with a supportive classroom culture, individualized instruction, and a print-rich classroom environment.  But my success in room 114 has taught me both the incredible prospects of high quality pre-k and the need to bring more intensely driven, passionate teachers to pre-k classrooms.  The TFA position affords the opportunity for me to do just that, and will expand my impact and take my passion for early childhood education to the next level.

In the end, my work is about kids and their ability to be successful in school and the larger society.  I taught my class both basic skills and the ability to think and problem solve.  I also instilled in them the confidence needed to take risks and, in turn, grow as learners in the future.  Now, I can be part of a larger effort to ensure that life circumstances at birth do not define and limit the life prospects of children in low-income areas.

This blog has been an invaluable outlet for my own reflections and a source of growth for me as a teacher.  Though I’ll no longer be writing for this blog, I look forward to reading and commenting on the experiences of the next person with that privilege. Perhaps that will be you or someone you know?  As policymakers and the public continue to consider and evaluate high-quality pre-k for all, the voices of teachers are never more needed in this discourse.

June 26, 2007

A Fair Shot

As my children prepare for pre-k graduation and the move to kindergarten, I cannot help but wonder about their futures.  Will Karen become a doctor?  Will Awana have the chance to choose between being a ballerina or a doctor?  Will Aniyah’s behavior regress and threaten her academic progress?

I have worked to introduce school to my class as an exciting and fun place where they can make friends, learn, and be successful.  Anecdotal evidence and various forms of assessments suggest that my students have already started to realize their potential and are on the path toward high achievement in school and beyond.  Parents’ strong attendance at our class events and interest in enriching their child’s learning over the summer also bode well for my students’ academic prospects.

Yet my students still have many years during which their attitudes toward school, themselves, and their peers could change for the worse.  Most of them will continue to live in unsafe neighborhoods and struggling school districts.  The research showing that students in inner city schools who have had high-quality pre-k do better than those who have not gives me hope.  I know that my instruction in the classroom and the active support of family members during this critical stage in children’s development will have life-long benefits.  I also believe innovative changes are occurring in the K-12 system, many of them spearheaded by my fellow Teach For America alums.  But, on an individual level, it is still hard to predict how high each child in my class will build on the pre-k foundation he or she gained this year.

My time in the classroom has been, above all, about providing the kinds of opportunities for my students that they deserve.  The playing field is not level, even for three and four year olds.  High-quality pre-k teachers alone cannot ensure that a child won’t face educational and societal inequities down the road, but the vibrant and challenging learning environments we provide are the first step toward giving all children an equal chance at success.

June 22, 2007

About Me

My name is Sophia Pappas, and I teach pre-kindergarten at an inner-city public school in New Jersey.

By sharing my classroom and my thoughts, I hope to give you more insight into the benefits of high-quality pre-k and how we can all play a role in creating and improving these vital programs. And I want to know what you think, too, so please don’t be shy about leaving comments and using this blog as an outlet for ideas, reflection, and debate.
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