Renton School District working on early learning
By TRACEY COMPTON
Renton Reporter Staff writer
February 22, 2013 · Updated 1:04 PM
While President Barack Obama and the nation examine issues surrounding early education, the Renton School District is initiating an effort to facilitate more support for pre-kindergarten learning from the community.
The district has invited 38 community partners, including daycares and pre-school programs, to a “dessert and dialogue” on March 7. The event is 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at Carco Theatre, 1717 S.E. Maple Valley Highway, Renton. Representatives from Valley Medical Center have also been invited to participate.
The district is trying to team up with these early learning partners to get kids ready for kindergarten.
“I hope that people come to the table,” said Amy Newmeyer, in a phone interview. She is an early learning liaison with the district’s Early Childhood Education Programs.
Newmeyer is coordinating the community outreach effort and funding for the project. She has gone door-to-door to explain the district’s approach to early education.
“We hope that they (community partners) are going to help define it for us,” Newmeyer said of early education curriculum. “What we envision is that together we would decide what kindergarten should look like in math and social skills and literacy.”
The district has adopted a math and social skills program, but the administration is hoping the community partners will join the district in creating a literacy program, Newmeyer said.
“Eventually what it means is that the Renton School District would loan out some of the materials that (the district) needs depending on the area of focus, what we decide,” she said.
One question the district hopes the meeting will answer is, what does the group want kids to learn and how can they make that happen. Newmeyer also hopes the group comes away with ideas on how to move forward, support for future meetings and commitment to participate from community partners.
This is a revived effort after an earlier attempt five years ago, which did not work out because funding fell through. Funding this year has been provided through Title 1, a federal program providing assistance to public schools with high numbers of poor students. Some funding may also come from the Race to The Top grant, from which the district recently received funds, and the Basic Education Fund.
The district hopes to influence all children at the pre-kindergarten level.
“Now we’re trying to touch all kids,” said Newmeyer. “The belief is that getting ready for kindergarten is partially innate, but something we need to do from birth to kindergarten (to) five years.”Contact Renton Reporter Staff writer Tracey Compton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-255-3484, ext. 5052.