Creating Remarkable Change in Kids
At Keystone Learning Academy, one of seven Excellence Academy early learning centers supported by Metro United Way, Director Sharon Hemingway has noticed a remarkable change in the kids. The atmosphere in the classroom - located in a highly challenged neighborhood - is now so much more peaceful, calm and conducive to learning.
The force driving this positive change is the Excellence Academy program, the result of a partnership between Metro United Way and Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C) that focuses on the skills of preschool teachers and the learning environment. The program implements the innovative Reggio Emilia approach, which turns the child into the leader of the classroom and their own process of discovery, with the teacher as an observer and co-learner. Natural surroundings are the third teacher: open and inviting, with natural colors and lighting, which encourages the child to collaborate, communicate and explore indoors as well as outside.
The improvement Sharon is witnessing at her learning center isn't an isolated case: approximately 67 percent of preschoolers participating in the Excellence Academy program test as ready for kindergarten, compared to just 53 percent of their peers who don't benefit from the program. This is one way Metro United Way is changing the odds for children and families to succeed in school and life.