Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:52PM - 266 Views
Jack Latta

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FRANKFORT – The success of May Valley Elementary’s first year in Toyota’s bornlearning Academy has secured it extended funding, representatives from Toyota announced this week.

According to officials, May Valley Elementary will receive continue receiving funding from Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Kentucky to operate the Toyota bornlearning Academy launched in 2012. May Valley is one of 21 schools – 12 of which are new this year – receiving funding for these early childhood education programs in the state. Toyota announced the new school locations, as well as continued funding for Academies launched in 2012, as part of a commitment to doubling its $1 million investment in early childhood education in the Commonwealth.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America are providing funding to United Way of Kentucky to expand the Toyota bornlearning Academies. Through 2016, Toyota bornlearning Academies will be established at 62 schools. The academies teach parents and caregivers of children from prenatal to five years old how to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.

Floyd County Supt. Henry Webb said Tuesday that we is pleased that Floyd County Schools would continue to benefit from the bornlearning Academy.

“We’re excited about the bornlearning Academy being funded again for 2013-14, as 140 parents and caregivers attended this past year,” said Webb. “About 65 percent of our children in Floyd County aren’t in structured educational or child care environments, and we want to see every child have every opportunity possible.”

“The team is developing a plan to include those who attended the first year as well as offering the same sessions to new attendees. And this means that more and more kids will have the chance for everyday experiences to become learning opportunities and allow them to be better prepared for Kindergarten,” said Webb.

Toyota bornlearning Academies are open to anyone in each community, not just those with children enrolled at the schools. The 12 new elementary schools receiving funding this year are: Lacy Elementary School (Hopkinsville), Foust Elementary School (Owensboro), Clark County Preschool (Winchester), Paris Elementary School (Paris), Garth Elementary School (Georgetown), Wingo Elementary School (Wingo), South Heights Elementary School (Henderson), J.A. Caywood Elementary School (Edgewood), Campbell Elementary School (Raceland), Murray Elementary School (Murray), Highland Elementary School (Waynesburg), and Trigg County Primary School (Cadiz).

In addition to May Valley Elementary, programs launched at other schools in 2012 will continue at Hiseville Elementary in Glasgow; Crabbe Elementary in Ashland; Grandview Elementary in Bellevue; East Calloway Elementary in Murray; H.W. Wilkey Elementary in Leitchfield; Berea Elementary in Berea; Farley Elementary in Paducah and Boston School in Boston.

According to the Kentucky Board of Education, only one in four Kentucky children is prepared for kindergarten.

“As a community, we must join together to turn around these statistics and the Toyota bornlearning Academies help do just that,” said Mike Price, vice president of administration, TMMK. “Toyota is committed to education and we are proud to bring this innovative program to even more young children and families across the state.”

The bornlearning Academy offers an innovative approach to early childhood development and parent engagement. The Academy utilizes bornlearning materials created by United Way Worldwide and a workshop model developed by Tim Hanner, retired school superintendent, United Way of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University. The partnership grew to include the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and United Way of Kentucky.

The Toyota bornlearning Academies serve as a fun and innovative community resource which engages parents and teachers to collaborate in early childhood development and explore ways children can learn through everyday interaction. Monthly school-based workshops will provide parents with tools to help their children succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

Connecting children to formative experiences in their early years is vital to future success. Children who are not prepared for kindergarten start out at a disadvantage and, without intervention, may continue to lag behind. According to a 2011 study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school than those who read at a proficient level.

“We must recommit as a community to our youngest citizens,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. “By improving early education opportunities now, we can help ensure the future success of our students in the classroom and beyond, as they enter college and prepare for the work force.”

The Toyota bornlearning Academies coincide with Gov. Beshear’s emphasis on early childhood education. In 2011, he created the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council to unite stakeholders behind common strategies, standards and goals for Kentucky’s early childhood system and to advocate for improved quality of early childhood services and improved school readiness.

Doug Eberhart, president of United Way of Kentucky, said Toyota’s commitment to creating 62 academies in Kentucky is an important step in raising the state’s overall educational attainment.

“By ensuring that young learners get an early start to their education, we are focusing on quality education that will prepare them for success in life,” said Eberhart. “We are grateful for Toyota’s investment in, and long-term commitment to, education in Kentucky.”

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