W.Va. Educators to Participate in Exclusive Program

April 16, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s progressive approach to preschool and early elementary grades has earned the state a spot at a prestigious pre-K through third grade program at Harvard University.

West Virginia’s eight-member team will attend the “Making it Work: Implementing a Comprehensive Pre-K-3rd Grade Approach” institute in May. The four-day learning experience will focus on aligning, layering, integrating and implementing best practices to successfully embed preschool through third grade principles into policy and practice. West Virginia team members include Clayton Burch, Monica Harless, Rachel Hull, Ginger Huffman and Pat Hammer from the West Virginia Department of Education as well as Lisa Ray from Harrison County Schools, Rita Ward from Mingo County Schools and Amanda Fragile from McDowell County Schools.

“There was very strong interest in the institute and the overall quality of the applicant pool was very high,” said Stephen Hyde, administrative director of Programs in Professional Education at Harvard. “In assembling the 2012 cohort, the committee selected teams that were able to most effectively show evidence of thoughtfully conceived goals and ongoing activities toward implementing a comprehensive pre-K-3rd grade approach.” 

West Virginia has repeatedly received national accolades for its preschool programs, including being recognized by the Children’s Defense Fund as one of only 10 states and the District of Columbia to offer free full-day kindergarten. In addition, West Virginia students benefit from a progressive state law that requires universal preschool be available to all of the state’s 4-year-olds by the 2012-2013 school year. The law has boosted not only preschool enrollment but also kindergarten participation statewide.  

In its application, West Virginia outlined plans to grow the successful Universal Pre-K system into a comprehensive preschool through third grade program. Steps already taken include alignment of content standards and objectives with national Common Core State Standards, called Next Generation Standards in West Virginia.

“Early childhood education is one area where West Virginia is overcoming societal obstacles to help children start their academic careers on a firm foundation,” said state Superintendent Jorea Marple. “Research shows that high-quality pre-K can help improve the educational success of all children, decrease dropout rates, crime and delinquency, and improve economic productivity and health. That’s important in a state like West Virginia where more than 50 percent of public school students are needy.”

For more information, contact the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699

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