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Trauma Resilience and Social, Emotional Learning Classes Next for WAW, EOEP Education Series

We are Warren and Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) announced today the second and third sessions in their continuing education series for community and non-profit leaders. The initial session on February 21 shared ways to add engaging, entertaining, district-aligned mathematics curriculum into existing student after-school programs.

The next session, Building Resilience to Overcome Trauma, will empower adults to assess and address the potential effects of trauma on children’s’ attendance, behavior, relationships, and performance. Anyone working with young people – child care providers, educators, youth leaders, coaches, mentors, and more – can benefit from using this strengths-based resiliency framework for healthy youth development, while also learning how to maintain their own self-care to avoid compassion fatigue and secondary trauma.

The March 28 session, held 10 am – 1 pm at Warren City Schools Administration Building, will be facilitated by Sarah Braun, EOEP Network Action Team Manager. She has extensive experience clinically supporting children in a variety of professional and academic settings, serves as an adjunct professor with the Department of Social Work at Youngstown State University, and holds a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University and Bachelor of Arts in Community Health and Sociology from Brown University.

The third session, Social and Emotional Learning for Life, will teach leaders strategies for helping youth recognize and manage emotions, develop care and concern for others, make responsible decisions, establish positive relationships, and handle challenging situations effectively. The ability to govern emotions and defuse conflict then allows children to remain on task, increases good behavior, and improves performance.

Jill Merolla, Warren City Schools Supervisor of Community Outreach & Grant Development, will lead the April 11 session, also to be held 10 am – 1 pm at Warren City Schools Administration Building. She provides the district with immediate crisis management and support, along with managing counseling, family coordinators, and community liaisons.

Future educational sessions will be held this summer on topics determined by series participants. Write to info@EOEPartnership.org with a subject line including Educational Series for more information, or register online at www.eoepartnership.org/resources/eduseries.

Skills Summary Smooths Transition to Kindergarten

In partnership with Child Care Connection, Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) is expanding efforts to ensure students smooth transition from preschool to kindergarten, providing training today at Kent State University at Trumbull for childcare teachers and administrators alongside their colleagues from area school districts.

EOEP Early Childhood Network Action Team launched the Preschool Transition Skills Summary (PTSS) program late in the 2015-2016 academic year, engaging eleven preschools with other community partners. Transition skills forms were completed for nearly 100 students, helping preschool staff and parents transfer information about individual student’s strengths and opportunities for improvement to kindergarten teachers and elementary school administrators. Aligned with Ohio’s Early Learning and Development standards, the PTSS form identifies students as on track, developing, or beginning to develop skills and strengths in language and literacy, social emotional, cognition general knowledge, math, social studies, science, physical well-being (hyphen?) and motor development, and approaches toward learning.

The training expands the PTSS program to reach even more students in more schools as they conclude the 2016-2017 and begin the 2017-2018 academic years. Thanks to local, state, and national program support, EOEP is broadening its collaborations with Child Care Connection, State Support Team Region 5, and other community partners to offer joint preschool and kindergarten teacher training, peer teacher mentoring, and related family engagement activities during the upcoming school year.

“By encouraging families to read with young children, aligning education strategies, and engaging families in meaningful district-wide activities, we work to have students who perform better in school and on standardized tests,” said Stephanie Shaw, EOEP Executive Director. “Our goal is to have families become more active partners with local preschools, school districts, and community service organizations to ensure student success, cradle to career.”

Read With Your Family Today

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” writes Dr. Seuss, American author Theodor Seuss Geisel, in his book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!. Seuss shares in this one of his more than 60 books not only how reading is fun but is also a useful tool to acquire knowledge.

The National Education Association has adopted Dr. Seuss’ birth date of March 2 for the largest reading party on the planet, Read Across America. Every year, the annual reading motivation and awareness program calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. They do so with family literacy events, design contests, pajama and pillow days, and even more creative initiatives and activities, encouraging families to continue reading all 365 days of the year. This program also aligns with National Reading Group Month, an initiative of the Women’s National Book Association to promote literacy and a love of reading during the month of March.

Motivating families to read is important. Reading is not only a fun and imaginative activity for children, opening doors to new worlds, but builds their language and communications skills, too. Reading assists younger readers in recognizing letters and sounds. It helps them begin identifying unfamiliar words from the surrounding context of other known words. Older readers learn to understand sentence structure as well as the organization structure of a written work. Reading helps them grasp ideas, understand inferences, and comprehend complex discussions. Reading at home may also influence higher math scores later in school, according to an Educational Testing Services study!

In addition to reading at home, some children enjoy quality preschool programs, gaining necessary skills to succeed in kindergarten. Yet many, especially those from low-income or troubled homes, have not been given these quality early literacy experiences. While students have widely varying early childhood experiences, it is critical they learn to read at an early age as proficiency by third grade is a crucial marker in a child’s educational development. Third graders who are not proficient readers are four times more likely than their peers to drop out before finishing high school, according to an Annie E. Casey Foundation study. State of Ohio research also shows students who are proficient readers by the end of third grade are five times more successful in achieving college and career readiness as their non-proficient peers.

The Ohio Department of Education is attempting to combat this challenge through the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The program measures children’s reading skills at the beginning of kindergarten, first and second grades, then provides individualized services, such as tutoring, tailored reading and vocabulary instruction, to ensure they can pass a state reading assessment before being promoted to fourth grade.

It’s never too early to start children reading. Helping improve even early skills, through activities such as letter naming and sounds, rhyming and sing-along games, and repetitive readings can jumpstart a child’s developmental journey. And reading for and with older children will certainly help them in school as well as later in life. So, join us in celebrating Read Across America and National Reading Group Month by reading some books with your family today!

Math Matters in After-School Programs

We are Warren and Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) launched today a new four-part educational series for community and non-profit organization leaders to develop the necessary skills, process, and resources to adapt and thrive in a new global environment. The first session shared ways to add engaging, entertaining, district-aligned mathematics curriculum into existing student after-school programs.

“There are so many ways to engage youth in fun math activities, both in and out of school,” explained Stephanie Shaw, EOEP Executive Director. “These activities often draw them toward math instead of pushing them away. It also helps them learn to solve problems and reason logically, improving their learning and performance.”

The first session was facilitated by Dr. Kim Yoak in the Warren City Schools Board of Education offices. Dr. Yoak spent a decade as a K-12 mathematics consultant for Stow-Munroe Falls City School District, and is now an independent specialist working with the Warren City School District and across Ohio, focusing on empowering students and educators with deep learning experiences in mathematics.

Participants from the City of Warren, local school districts, area churches, and other non-profit organizations learned how to encourage after-school program students into a “growth mindset,” praising their math efforts as well as achievements. They discussed in single large and then smaller groups how math is about creativity, connections, and communicating, where questions are really important and mistakes are valuable opportunities for them and their classmates. The group also reviewed how math is more about learning then performing, and depth of understanding is more critical than swift completion.

In addition, the class considered eight standards for mathematical practice from the Common Core State Standards. In addition, Corrie Adams of The Raymond John Wean Foundation shared with participants’ valuable information and examples of the Foundation’s Educational Opportunity strategic priority. The Foundation prioritizes systematic change initiatives supporting Warren and Youngstown City School students’ academic success, primarily in early childhood readiness and access, attainment of skills that improve student outcomes, and readiness, access, and completion of postsecondary education and job training. This educational series was designed to support the alignment of the Foundation’s grantees with the work that takes place in local school districts.

Future educational series sessions will focus on social emotional learning, capacity building, and other topics will be held during winter and spring. Interested community leaders can find out more by writing to info@EOEPartnership.org with a subject line including Educational Series.

Summer Melt Texts Bridge Gaps

Many local students work hard to become the first member of their family to apply for and be accepted to college, thanks to their teachers, coaches, counselors, and other administrators. But after graduation, much of this support system is gone and those that remain – friends, siblings, and parents – may not know how to help. College-bound students can become overwhelmed with all the required tasks for admission; logging into new online portals, submitting financial aid paperwork, applying for housing, taking placement exams, scheduling classes, and attending orientation, among others. Often, they’re also juggling these tasks with work responsibilities, so by August, they may have ignored and even forgotten college aspirations all together and instead fall into what may be low wage, uninspiring, dead-end jobs.

In our target districts, less than half of Mahoning Valley seniors enter college within two years of graduating high school. Now many, according to Ohio Department of Education, take the ACT, complete their FASFA, and enroll in college. But many never make it to the first day of class. Even fewer complete the first semester, even less their first year, and only a fraction graduate with a college degree.

Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) Postsecondary and Career Readiness Network Action Team, however, is utilizing proven methods to halt Summer Melt, the term coined nationally representing students’ slippery slope away from college. EOEP has brought together Campbell, Warren, and Youngstown school district officials alongside Youngstown State University, Kent State University Trumbull, Eastern Gateway Community College, Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority and Mahoning Valley College Access Program representatives to address the problem.

They have identified, on average, about 20 percent of local students in our target districts take the necessary steps to attend college but do not matriculate the fall following graduation. One study, from the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, reports even worse statistics, with up to 40 percent of low-income students nationally never making it to college the fall following graduation. This may be due to a variety of social, financial, and academic issues.

EOEP began working to increase area matriculation rates and identifying related obstacles during the 3-month launch of the Summer Melt program last academic year. Nearly 80 area families enrolled and began receiving text messages through Signal Vine software to learn more about general college enrollment, financial aid, registration, and orientation, as well as resources specific to local individual institutions. At no charge, these families received about two informational and reminder texts each week, with nearly 30 percent of program participants texting back to ask clarifying questions and receive personalized support. National research of similar texting programs has shown they significantly increase college matriculation rates, ensuring students complete all requirements in an accurate and timely manner, and have increased college enrollment up to nearly 40 percent.

In its first year, EOEP Summer Melt bridged a few gaps for some struggling students. One young man, for example, had applied for but thought he was denied entry into the selective Youngstown State University Summer Bridge program. After inquiring about it through a Summer Melt text, we found there had simply been a miscommunication between YSU and the student, then helped arrange for his program interview. The student was subsequently accepted into the Summer Bridge, and this past fall successfully completed his first semester of college.

Another young woman had her heart set on attending YSU but gave up hope after failing to achieve the minimum ACT score. She was lost about her next step after high school until we encouraged her to research Eastern Gateway Community College and Kent State University Trumbull. We made her aware their affordable coursework credits would directly transfer, and help her qualify, for the YSU program she wanted. EOEP put her in touch with the right Admissions people, helped her enroll, and now, after this personal one-on-one attention, she too has completed her first semester of college at Eastern Gateway Community College!

Now in its second academic year, EOEP is offering the successful Summer Melt program to students and their families in Campbell, Warren, and Youngstown school districts. Families may register for the program at www.surveymonkey.com/r/txt2soar. It is critical we all encourage students starting down the path to postsecondary education to successfully reach their destination.

Braun Named Network Action Team Manager

Sarah Braun, former School Program Supervisor at Homes of Kids Inc. / Child and Family Solutions, will join the Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) team on Wednesday, February 1, 2017.

Braun, who holds a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University and Bachelor of Arts in Community Health and Sociology from Brown University, will serve as EOEP Network Action Team Manager. Her primary role will be as a catalyst for cross-sector collective impact across the Mahoning Valley in four focus areas; early childhood education, third grade reading and eighth grade mathematics proficiency, and postsecondary and career readiness.

She will formulate, organize, and coordinate network action teams comprised of community volunteer leaders in education, business, government, philanthropy, and other local agencies. Together, they will align goals, share relevant data, institute proven practices, and measure results to ensure quality education for all area children. With continuous communication, they will also continue making data-driven decisions for educational success, cradle to career.

Braun previously served as clinical outpatient therapist and community psychiatric supportive treatment worker at Homes for Kids. She engaged elementary students and their families with school teachers and administrators in counseling and multi-tiered support services at Public School 130 in the Bronx earlier in her career. In addition, Braun partnered with the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports team to integrate evidence-based conflict resolution training into existing classroom curricula.

Locally, Braun is an adjunct professor with the Department of Social Work at Youngstown State University and serves as Treasurer on the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership Board of Directors. She is also an Aerial Yoga Instructor at Body Bliss Connections, and resides in Warren.

Mentoring Improves Academic, Social, and Economic Outcomes

At the start of each year, the United States of America celebrates National Mentoring Month to reflect on the transformative role mentorship can play, and acknowledge the many ways parents, teachers, coaches, and other mentors help lift up the next generation of leaders. This contribution of time and talent reaps many rewards; research shows mentoring positively effects academic, social, and economic outcomes, helping youngsters attend and excel in school, make more responsible choices, and reduce or avoid risky behavior such as drug use and gang activity.

“I grew up without a dad. I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path,” explained President Barak Obama, in the 2014 launch of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative. “At some critical points, I had some people who cared enough about me to give me a second chance, or a third chance. That’s why mentoring is so important. We know the difference a responsible caring adult can make in a child’s life.”

Research shows about 9 million young people in our country will grow up without a mentor at home, school, or in their community. Formal mentoring programs match these youths with an appropriate adult, usually unrelated but instead a community, church, or school volunteer. Local, state, and national organizations are the most effective in creating high-quality matches, improving the child’s well-being through personal, social, and academic support in one-on-one, peer, group, and even e-mentoring relationships. Additional partnerships between these individuals, non-profit organizations, education, business, and government can also help identify more paths for mentees to achieve success and prosperity, regardless of circumstance.

These opportunities blossomed locally late last year with the launch of My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Mahoning Valley, joining about 250 other communities across the nation. The national program helps ensure all youth, especially boys and young men of color, have opportunities to improve their life outcomes and overcome barriers to success. In particular, the local initiative also encourages existing mentorship programs to work collaboratively to expand their efforts.

While similar in nature, these local organizations specialize in unique areas of opportunity, such as the work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills learned in Junior Achievement or the physical, mental, and spiritual development taught through outdoor and survival skills by Boy and Girl Scouts. Inspiring Minds primarily utilizes new experiences to enhance confidence and strengthen character, preparing students for their future while imbedding the significance of their roots. One of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organizations in the United States, Big Brothers Big Sisters, even maintains about 250 matches in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, simply inspiring Bigs and Littles to keep a consistent schedule of outings to help each other see the world from a new perspective.

Each afternoon, nearly half of America’s youth are home alone, unsupervised. During this time, they can be exposed to or involved in violence, crime, drugs, and sexual activity. Instead, at-risk youth paired in an official mentorship program are, according to The National Mentoring Partnership:

  • 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school.
  • 46% less likely than their peers to start using drugs.
  • 55% more likely to enroll in college.
  • And, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

Mentored youth are more likely to stay in school, be empowered to make smart choices, and become productive members of our communities. It improves their relationship skills, increases confidence, and raises aspirations. It makes a difference in our communities, one child at a time. Nobody succeeds on their own.

Class Notes Monthly E-Newsletter Introduction

Welcome to the new monthly e-newsletter from Eastern Ohio Education Partnership. Just one time each month we’ll be sharing with you the very best stories about education collaborations, initiatives, and events benefitting students throughout Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, and Ashtabula County school districts. We also hope to keep you informed and encourage your engagement in student success through our monthly opinion column and a calendar of upcoming events.

So why did you receive this inaugural Class Notes monthly e-mail? Most likely, you expressed an interest in education or have taken part in some Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) activity, initiative, or event during the past few years. It’s easy to do. Our work takes us across the region as a backbone organization for collective impact on education throughout the entire valley. We convene and then collaborate with local schools, businesses, funders, government, media, and other non-profit institutions. Together, we align goals, share relevant data, institute proven practices, and measure results to ensure quality education for all our children. Through continuous communication, we make data-driven decisions with our partners for educational success, cradle to career.

It’s a big job. One we can’t do alone. Our role as a backbone organization in the collective impact model is to build a cross-sector alliance of community partners around a shared vision and then make data available for the collaborative decision-making process. We do not manage many of the tremendously impactful programs for students. We are here to help YOU succeed.

This Collective Impact model helps all of us tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems that we cannot fix on our own. Its innovative yet structured approach, developed in part by the Strive Education Partnership of Cincinnati, seeks enduring systematic change through gradual collaborative improvement over time, not just chasing single breakthroughs by individuals or organizations.

The model was formally introduced in the 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Collective Impact,” by FSG Social Impact Advisors consultants John Kania and Mark Kramer, and further expounded on by Michele Jolin, Paul Schmitz, and Willa Seldon in their 2012 “Community Collaboratives White Paper” for The White House Council for Community Solutions. In these and other academic papers, replicated in practice across the United States, the model sees significant and lasting social change taking place when a backbone organization helps develop in their communities a common agenda, shared measurement systems, and mutually reinforcing activities that build public will, advance policy, and mobilize funding.

That’s our job. Eastern Ohio Education Partnership (EOEP) collaborates with community partners to align proven practices for educational success. We help create transformational change by advocating for individual programs and organizations to come together in new ways to educate all our children. We help align funding within Mahoning Valley and across the country to invest in your programs. We work across organizational, geographic, and social boundaries to collectively impact educational, community, and economic development.

Eastern Ohio Education Partnership begin as Ohio P-16, addressing three key levels of education; early childhood education or prekindergarten, kindergarten through grade twelve, and postsecondary (certification programs, colleges and universities). Our early efforts with FASFA completion and ACT test prep, among other programming, was permanently transformed under the collective impact model, as our board, leadership council, action teams, and other community partners called on EOEP to become the backbone organization in just four narrow educational focus areas; early childhood readiness; third grade reading and eighth grade math proficiency; and, postsecondary and career readiness and access.

Thanks to local, state, and federal funding, EOEP engaged with eleven preschools and other community partners in 2016 to administer transition skills forms to nearly 100 students, helping preschool staff, parents, and kindergarten teachers improve each child’s transition from preschool to kindergarten. This coming year, we will expand the program by nearly 30%, reaching more students in more schools, while adding joint preschool and kindergarten teacher training, peer teacher mentoring, and family engagement literacy activities, conducted in partnership with our friends in local school districts, State Support Team Region 5, and Child Care Connection. In addition, our Early Childhood Network Action Team and Mahoning Valley Education Consortium conference call audience regularly reviews and aligns community education goals, compares benchmark measurements, and evaluates policy changes.

By encouraging families to read with young children, sharing accessible education strategies, and engaging them all in meaningful district-wide activities, our students will perform better in school and on standardized tests while families will become more active partners with local preschools, school districts, and community service organizations.

EOEP continues to seek new engaged partners to help raise awareness, align strategies, and make data-based decisions to improve third grade reading and eighth grade math proficiency test scores. Community, business, school, and other non-profit leaders can become part of this new network action team in 2016 by calling (330) 675-7623, writing info@EOEParternship.org, or visiting www.eoepartnership.org/contact. It is critically important students succeed in these areas, as they are key indicators to their later success by graduating high school, enrolling in college, and having thriving careers.

Our Postsecondary and Career Readiness and Access Network Action Team is filled with bright minds from across the region representing local schools, colleges and universities, as well as trade and tech institutions. Also meeting regularly to align goals, evaluate collaborative strategies, and compare benchmarks, this group has targeted high school graduation and matriculation rates as key indicators for future success, launching the Summer Melt texting program to assist recently graduated seniors with the college enrollment, orientation, and admission process. Research has shown that texting programs of this nature increase college matriculation rates, ensuring students complete all requirements in an accurate and timely manner. Now in its second year, EOEP is beginning this fall offering the program in three area school districts for about 250 students and their guardians.

These are but a few of the initiatives and goals EOEP is striving to reach with our community partners. The education landscape across the United States is dotted with collaboration, and the Mahoning Valley is no exception. We are blessed with the combined time, talent, and treasure invested locally by our friends in education, business, government, and other non-profit organizations. We are making a lasting impact by committing to common goals and working collaboratively. Stay tuned, here and on our social media pages at Facebook and Twitter, for more information about how we all can better prepare our area students for successful careers.

Why Preschool?

Educating Children Before Kindergarten Provides Long-Term Value

By Stephanie L. Shaw
Executive Director
Eastern Ohio Education Partnership

Carrie Boyer can tell whether a student in her elementary school has attended preschool.

Boyer, the principal of Jefferson PK-8 School in Warren, said it often comes down to if a child can interact positively with their teachers and other students.

“If a child doesn’t attend preschool, he or she may be academically and socially behind,” Boyer said. “Preschool helps kids to be curious about things and to be thinking beyond the scope of their little worlds.”

Boyer is not alone. Researchers have long recognized the benefits of preschool for children.

Research completed by the organization, Great!KIDS, lists 10 reasons why preschool is a good choice:

  1. Preschool provides an opportunity for growth
  2. Preschool prepares children for kindergarten
  3. Preschool promotes social and emotional development
  4. Preschool operates in a structured environment
  5. Children get to make choices
  6. Children learn to take care of themselves and others
  7. Preschool promotes language and cognitive skills
  8. Preschool teachers nurture a child’s curiosity
  9. Preschool activities boost pre-math and literacy skills
  10. Preschool helps develop motor skills

The CAYL Institute, in a report published in December 2015, estimated that only 47 percent of preschool-aged children in the Mahoning Valley are attending “accredited” preschool programs.

At Eastern Ohio Education Partnership, we are working hard to increase that percentage and believe that sharing information about the value of preschool is our best tool for convincing parents about the importance of preschool.

There’s a tremendous amount of research explaining why preschool matters. It’s not just about learning to sing your ABC’s. And it’s not necessarily about identifying colors. Instead, preschool is where children learn what they need to be successful in kindergarten and throughout life.

Much of that knowledge deals with social and emotional skills like getting along with others, sharing and paying attention. But there’s also a healthy amount of other material that corresponds with rising expectations for today’s school children. Preschool children can gain a foundation that will help them with everything from reading and writing to mathematics and complex problem-solving.

Like it or not, children are expected to learn more and to know more and preschool offers that critical first step.

Families have different ideas about preschool and its importance. Many of us think that we can educate our children at home. I confess that I thought that way and I kept my children at home as long as possible. I understand that desire to want to keep children close and to guide what they learn.

The reality, however, is that parents need help from professional and quality preschool operators and we are fortunate to live in a place where it is possible to check out multiple preschools without leaving the comfort of your home.

The State of Ohio has a system for evaluating many of the state’s preschool operations. Child Care Connection has compiled the evaluations and aggregated other data about preschools in the area. You can search through the preschool database when looking for a preschool in the region by going to: http://childcare-connection.org/search-child-care-online.aspx

These reports are just one source of information about preschools. You can also investigate recommendations from friends, neighbors and relatives. And, of course, you can also visit preschools yourself.

The most important thing is to take action, Principal Boyer said, “We really want to start relationships with parents so that they understand what their children are learning. We want to create a true community of learning.”

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