‘Seeding Success’: Cross-generational and multi-cultural relationships

(Provided image/Oscar Romero)

(Provided image/Oscar Romero)

This is the sixth of a series of seven stories featured ahead of the seventh annual NCW Community Success Summit, which IRIS (Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship) is convening in Quincy on Nov. 15. This year’s event, “Seeding Success, Growing ONE Community,” will celebrate stories about our environment, community, and economy that are helping to connect and strengthen our region. Each story will focus on one of seven different themes IRIS is using to highlight successes. For more information about the summit, to register, sample more stories and submit a story, visit www.irisncw.org.

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Students from the Living & Loving Preschool in Quincy gather in a circle. (Provided photo)

Loving & Learning Preschool      

Contact: Kay Baumgartner

 

What is the situation?

A board member of Quincy’s “Readiness to Learn” grant, Kaye Baumgartner and others worked with licensed daycare providers to identify the need to better prepare preschool-aged children across the community for the public school system. As an elementary school counselor, Kaye had seen the need increase since the late 1980s. Some children entering kindergarten could write their names and read numbers whereas others had no experience holding a pencil or scissors correctly. So Kaye and other members of St. Paul Lutheran Church began considering what they could do as a congregation to address this community need. They formed a steering committee in 2010 to research how they could create a preschool in their church, gathering input from existing preschools and the greater Quincy community. Along the way, they learned how dual language acquisition enhances brain development and subsequent learning during early years. They decided to build a program that would deliver some dual language instruction to achieve those benefits, opening their doors as the Loving and Learning Preschool in 2013.

What is the challenge? 

The preschool steering committee wanted to create a program that would provide an enhanced education for the children while fitting within the means of their parents. Kaye started by meeting with Quincy-area Hispanic pastors and daycare providers, gathering good input on how to recruit parents, students, and get the students to the school. Then she and other steering committee members designed their program to be affordable, keeping tuition low and offering scholarships, along with transportation to and from childcare. It was promoted via fliers and an informal video distributed to area churches.

What are the key activities?

•     Upfront planning. The steering committee worked for two years before the preschool opened and before the board was formed, which includes parent representatives.

•     Made good use of existing resources by remodeling church classrooms into preschool classrooms and converting the nursery into the teacher’s office.

•     Hired good teachers and connected them with a successful dual language program and materials, e.g., Lewis & Clark Elementary in Wenatchee.

•     Attracted resources from Yahoo, Paul Lauzier Foundation, NCW Foundation, and other donations to help create a playground, purchase a bus, and offer scholarships.

•     Fostered family-like atmosphere at gatherings for school performances and fundraising efforts and by hosting dinner meetings with preschool families.

What is the successful outcome? 

Since 2013, 28 Spanish and English-speaking children per year have received an enhanced learning opportunity with kindergarten teachers reporting that those who attend the school perform better than those who didn’t go to preschool. The school maintains a waiting list.

Kay Baumgartner may be reached at manpabum@hotmail.com.