Straight Talk from the Superintendent - November 10, 2022
Did you know that Hurricane Nicole was the first hurricane to make landfall in November since 1985? Talk about an unusual start to the month! I hope everyone is staying safe and experiencing minimal impacts, and Nicole brings hurricane season to an end for us.
We know that this week’s weather and the subsequent decisions presented challenges for school operations, learning, our CCSD employees, and the community. I want to share my deepest gratitude for all that you do daily, but especially for your efforts this week.
To the many veterans in CCSD, thank you for your service.
The Early Learning Component - Strengthening the Village
This week I want to expand some more on the early learning inputs in our K-12 ecosystem as we approach the district’s inaugural Early Learning Kindergarten Readiness Symposium on November 30, with our local childcare providers and municipal partners. Kim Foxworth, the district’s Executive Director of Early Learning Readiness Programs, and her team have been hard at work. Making this event take shape is no small feat. We are excited to engage and collaborate with our community partners on this important topic of early learning and kindergarten readiness - a topic important to our whole community.
The day-long symposium will feature multiple breakout sessions led by state agency leaders and local childcare providers. Sessions will focus on readiness resources, common expectations, and building collaborative networks. There will be a featured panel discussion, and CCSD is excited to welcome Dr. Jill Dent, Bureau Director of Early Childhood for the Mississippi Department of Education as the keynote speaker. Dr. Dent will share her deep knowledge and expertise, and it is an exciting opportunity for our Early Learning community.
Understanding the Current Ecosystem
As many of you may already know, the district offers early childhood education from birth to five years old beginning with Early Head Start (0-2 years old), Head Start (3-year-olds), and Child Development (4K). The mission of CCSD's Early Learning community is to provide rigorous, developmentally appropriate instruction that incorporates social-emotional learning in a safe and nurturing environment. We know in different parts of our county that we have more demand than supply for our early learning programs and in other areas more supply than demand. Our systems thinking and root cause analysis has surfaced several factors that contribute to these disparities. Under the leadership of Ms. Foxworth, staff has begun to implement strategies to address the gaps to ensure all children that enter our system are Kindergarten-ready. I shared some of these strategies that are largely focused on immediately expanding access to early learning.
The expansion of seats in our early learning program is just one input into the early learning component of the K-12 ecosystem as access, opportunities, and engagement [or enrollment] must all occur in tandem to support successful outcomes of readiness.
Strong Ecosystems Remove Barriers
An important part of building a strong ecosystem to support early learning is collaboration. The Symposium is CCSD’s first-ever gathering of local public and private childcare providers, state agencies, higher education institutions, elected officials, and municipal partners for a day of discussion.
A focus of the Symposium will be dedicated to early learning leaders collectively identifying and defining the academic and social-emotional skills of a Kindergarten-ready child. Private and public childcare providers from the Charleston community will build ties that ensure continued partnership in readying all children for Kindergarten, positioning our community to remove barriers to access for early learning opportunities.
A Way Forward
Speaking of goals, in the recently adopted and final version of the Board of Trustees goals, there are two interim goals specific to early learning under Goal 1 focused on literacy.
Now more than ever, I feel optimistic that our community will come together to support strengthening our early childhood education opportunities.
I look forward to working together to meet our goals for all students.
Stay safe and have a great weekend.