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Kids Co. Demonstrates Chopped Chops

Kids Co. students learn about cooking and nutrition during friendly competition

Kids Co. Chopped Competition, part 2 - League of Education VotersKids Co. is a Seattle-area quality childcare provider that has partnered with South Shore PK-8 since the school opened in 2002. Kids Co. has provided millions of dollars in scholarships with help from the New School Foundation and the League of Education Voters. Nearly 60 percent of all children who attend Kids Co. at South Shore qualify for free or reduced lunch (FRL), and receive these scholarships.

Every day, Kids Co. sees the parents of the kids served, so they get to know the families – their ups and downs and financial struggles – and it’s all about relationships. Their summer programs serve kids K-5, and the kids from different grades learn to work together and support each other.

Kids Co. supplements meals, and they teach kids how to create a nutritious meal on a budget, instilling these skills in children as young as 5 years old. At South Shore, the Kids Co. classroom features a full kitchen, and is able to prepare hot, fresh meals.

President and CEO Susan Brown says, “The school day begins when the kids wake up. Kids spend more time in childcare than in school.” During summer, that can be as many as 11 hours a day for working parents, and 5 each day during the school year. Susan adds, “Nobody is turned away because of lack of funds.”

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Posted in: LEV News

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The Value of Early Childhood Education

South Shore PK-8 Teacher Matthew O'Connor - League of Education VotersBy Matthew O’Connor, Guest Blogger

I came to teaching at South Shore because of previous experience with Teach for America, working in a Head Start classroom in Houston with 3- and 4-year-olds. This inspired me to become an Early Childhood Education teacher.

I am a pre-K and kindergarten teacher at South Shore PK-8 in Rainier Beach. This is my seventh year teaching (fourth year at South Shore) and I work with five other colleagues, three lead teachers, each partnered with a full-time classroom teammate. Our vision for students begins with the belief that every student can be at grade level when they move on to first grade.

Moving forward from that belief, my team considers the reality that the American public education system does not mirror the histories or lived realities of students of color. To respond to this truth, we try to build classroom experiences that combine content and student identity in order to develop a good foundation of academic and social-emotional skills as well as a good sense of self and family. We hope that, in the future, this will allow them to tell their story of self in order to advocate for themselves and their community, reveal truth, interrupt bias, and encourage healing.

We loop with our students, starting with them as preschoolers at 4 years old, and stay with them as kindergarteners. Because of getting to work with our students for two years, we develop deep relationships between us. The students we have are very diverse, from multiple ethnic and racial backgrounds: immigrants, refugees, communities of color, many low income.

For most of our students, it is the first experience that they have with the American education system, and it is a privilege and a burden. It is a privilege because if we do our work right, they obtain a good foundation about what being in school means. They come to understand that the quality education that is their birthright includes a teacher who cares about them and listens authentically to their needs. They also know that this education includes discussions about what is happening in their community. They hopefully come to understand that it is school that must respond to their needs and the stories they bring—not the other way around. It is a burden to know that we send them off as six-year-olds and that they have twelve more years to finish their education, because they may not receive an education that continues to support them to be the best that they can.

Some projects that we do include a unit on developing preschoolers’ sense of self – we interview students about their favorite food, color, they create body shapes and mix paints to match their own skin color, we interview students and parents about their names, why they like their names and what their names mean. We also do two family projects. One is a family tree in which they identify family members in multiple generations. The other is a genetic one about students’ hair, skin, and facial features. Students write what they learn about their families, and what they learn is compiled into a book. At the end of the unit we have a publishing party where students share their work with their families.

Parents are also actively involved in our program. One way is that we invite them to give input on choosing the top 12 priorities that they wish to see students learn. Later they assess their children’s teachers on how they have done to implement these priorities into their children’s lessons. This is done through a tool developed by the Teaching Excellence Network. My team members and I also conduct Chalkboard Chats for parents on different topics – some are academic, focused on how to do a great read along with your children.  For others, community experts were invited in to discuss issues of parenting—such as talking to young children about racial identity or what to do if you expect your student is exhibiting atypical academic or social behavior.

The value of early childhood education is that it gives children a good foundation on which to build for their succeeding years in school – besides academics, students develop a good sense of self and family, and learn that their actions, no matter how small, can help make the world better.

Posted in: Early Learning

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The LEV Annual Breakfast Panelists

Meeghan Black

Meeghan Black will host our Annual Breakfast.

We hope you will join the League of Education Voters at our annual breakfast on March 11 at the Seattle Sheraton to learn how, through high-quality early learning, we not only change the beginning of the story, we change the WHOLE story.

Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Meeghan Black will host our event and Washington First Lady Trudi Inslee will moderate a panel of early learning advocates and experts.

Panelists include: Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess, Seattle Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Michelle Terry, South Shore PK–8 Principal Keisha Scarlett, and Trilogy International Partners Chair John Stanton. (more…)

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South Shore counselor Rachel Powers Carrasco wins Swain Excellence in Education Award

classroom with students raising handsRachel Powers Carrasco, a counselor at the South Shore School in South Seattle, has been awarded The Philip B. Swain Excellence in Education Award. Presented by the Alliance for Education and funded by family and friends through an endowment, the award was established to honor Phillip Swain, who was a passionate advocate for public education throughout his life.

In her nomination, Rachel’s administrators wrote “Rachel Carrasco is a remarkable member of our South Shore family – her exceptional leadership, her long standing relationships with students, families and staff members, and her relentless advocacy for student success reminds her Administrators of the holistic, comprehensive and thoughtful wrap-around services that each child deserves from our schools.”

The yearly award is given to teachers and counselors in Seattle Public Schools who are nominated by colleagues, principals and/or administrators in Seattle Public Schools. All winners have taught for at least three years at a school where, for at least two of the past three years, there is a rate of free and reduced-lunch eligibility of 40 percent or higher. Most importantly, the winners inspire a love of learning in students while helping them reach their highest academic potential, and play a leadership role with their peers in fostering a professional learning community, in which teachers are encouraged to learn from one another through coaching, study groups, peer critique and collaborative problem-solving.

The award also includes a stipend of $1,000 to be used for continuing professional development, for travel associated with such development, for classroom projects or for personal purposes. Rachel, along with the other five award recipients, has also been invited to attend the Alliance for Education Community Breakfast.

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Why I love The New School at South Shore.

They’ve read the research and they’re using it to create change for real kids, right now. Early learning gains are the foundation for learning. Fade-out is not a factor at South Shore because grades K-3 are equally high-quality and pre-K – grade 3 teachers work together.

Lucky me, I’ve seen their model in action. I’ve met the kids. I’ve seen the results. You should stop by and check it out. In the meantime, check out this short video showing how their pre-K – grade 3 model works.

PRE-KINDERGARTEN — 3RD GRADE A New Beginning for American Education from Brian Quist on Vimeo.

Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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