IMESD received $143,700 kindergarten innovation grant

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The InterMountain Education Service District (IMESD) has been awarded a grant to assist the Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub with the establishment of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to strengthen connections between early learning and K-12 educators. The $143,700 grant was awarded to the IMESD by the Oregon Early Learning Council, and will last through June 30, 2015.

The IMESD serves as a partner-leader in the Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub along with Umatilla-Morrow Head Start. The organizations, along with school district partners throughout Umatilla, Morrow and Union counties, are working towards better connections between early learning providers and K-12 educators, as well as reaching out to parents about the variety of early learning services and programs available in the region. The goal is to better prepare children for kindergarten through early learning.

Through the new grant, the IMESD will assist in creating PLCs made up of preschool providers, kindergarten teachers, primary school teachers and administrators. The PLCs’ goals are to reach a clear understanding of expected outcomes for early childhood learning, determine a way to assess student learning, and develop strategies to have students meet those outcomes. PLC team members will attend monthly meetings, as well as four full-day professional development workshops. They will also become region-wide trainers of early childhood learning best practices through a “train the trainers” model.

Additionally, PLC members will participate in a grant evaluation designed to assess the overall impact of the grant program, which may include surveys, interviews, video recordings and other means of collecting data.

Family engagement and parent workshops will also be funded through this grant.

“This is a great opportunity for IMESD and the Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub to enhance connections between early learning and K-12,” said Dr. Mark Mulvihill, Superintendent of the IMESD and a member of the Oregon Education Investment Board. “One of Oregon’s strategic initiatives in education is to improve our early learning practices and better prepare kids for kindergarten, so this grant will enable our region to strategically foster relationships with existing partners and improve education for our youngest learners.”