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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Early Education and Care’ Category

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Cecile Tousignant, and in 1975 my husband and I converted a defunct night club into Busy Bees Preschool Center in Fitchburg. In 2006, I retired as proprietor/teaching director and sold the center. Now I’m supporting a bill that has been filed in the State House that could change our profession.

I’m a 1991 M.S. alum of Wheelock College, and I have many post-graduate courses under my belt, the latest ones were about coaching early educators. Though I no longer work in direct service with children and families, I have found my way back into the early childhood classroom as an independent, early childhood consultant, coach, and trainer for public school, center-based and family childcare programs

Advocacy and developing public policy are my passion. Volunteering my time to improve the lives of young children and their families has been a critical way to meet the needs of families and the needs of early care providers as we’ve navigated the ever-changing landscape of the past 40 years.

My diverse work with the Early Childhood Advisory Council of Fitchburg (which evolved from the Chapter 188 Council), the MontachusettAEYC board, the Monty Tech Early Childhood Advisory Committee, Region 2 EPS Sub-Committees and now the MassAEYC Governance Sub-Committee has kept me afloat amid the currents of policy changes that affect families of young children and the early childhood workforce. (more…)

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Photo: Courtesy of MassAEYC

Last month, the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children (MassAEYC) held its 13thAnnual Spring Conference for early educators and administrators in Westford, Mass. More than 300 people attended.

The very popular keynote speaker was Richard Cohen who is known online for his list “Top Ten Signs You’re an Early Childhood Educator.” The first two items are:

#10 You find yourself humming “The Wheels on the Bus” in the shower

#9 Every time you turn around, someone tells you that you have a piece of glitter on your face

An early educator for 30 years, Cohen is a professional speaker and a professor of Early Care and Learning at St. Louis Community College in Ferguson, Miss. A short version of his presentation is posted here. A longer version is here.

Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care also spoke at the conference.  (more…)

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Photo: Greater Lawrence Community Action Council’s Facebook page

Monday at the State House was Advocacy Day for early education and care and school-age programs. The message for this year was best summarized in a hashtag: #ValueEarlyEducators.

“About 200 early education supporters rallied outside the State House Monday, thanking lawmakers for their efforts to boost the salaries of early educators but urging them to do more to help young learners and workers whose wages place them on the edge of poverty,” according to the State House News Service.

The event was organized by MADCA, the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care, along with the Put MA Kids First coalition. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

In 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education (EEC) was awarded a federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG grant), funds that officials are using to expand high-quality preschool in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield.

Now, a new report says the first year of PEG grant activity has produced strong benefits – with room for targeted improvements.

“While there remains room for growth and consistency as the program continues into its second year of implementation, both children and parents are clearly benefitting from the program,” said Principal Investigator Barbara Goodson.

“The five participating cities are making significant progress toward supporting our goal of helping all children achieve math and reading proficiency by third grade,” Governor Charlie Baker said earlier this month in a press release. (more…)

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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is getting a makeover. The program’s scholarships help early childhood and after-school educators earn college degrees – either an associate or a bachelor’s.

The scholarship launched 10 years ago. It was added to the Massachusetts state budget thanks to the efforts of legislative leaders and advocates, including Strategies for Children. At the time, data showed that only 30 percent of center-based early educators held a BA or higher degree.

The scholarship is greatly appreciated by teachers. As Jennie Antunes, an early educator and scholarship recipient from New Bedford, told us:

“Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Why does the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs care if a child eats an apple?

Because the alliance is trying to change the world. Instead of couches and chips, the alliance is working to expose children to more fresh food and physical activity.

One goal is to protect kids from obesity and developing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

But this effort may well do a lot more. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out, healthier students are better learners. Better learners are more likely to graduate from high school. And “Better-educated individuals live longer, healthier lives than those with less education, and their children are more likely to thrive,” according to a policy brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In other words, kids who habitually eat apples and ride bikes could be laying a foundation for decades of success – for themselves and their descendants.

What’s the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA’s doing with this information?

Bringing it to the preschool arena. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

“We know from human history and the latest learning science that success comes from the combination of academic knowledge and the ability to work with others. We need public education to reflect this broader definition of success, and this commission is well positioned to point the way.”
– Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute

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From pre-K to 12th grade, having strong social and emotional learning (SEL) skills — such as listening, working well with others, and delaying gratification — is a crucial ingredient for long-term success.

To provide more information and leadership, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has launched a new webpage called Social and Emotional Learning in Massachusetts. (more…)

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