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Taylor, Grant County Partner to Boost Early Childhood Education

  • Published: Oct 26, 2015 2:45PM

A team of student researchers from Taylor University will announce findings and propose next steps stemming from a summer-long project aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of early childhood educational opportunities in Grant County.

The students say they will formally acknowledge the work done by community leaders to increase access to high-quality early childhood education for impoverished youth in Grant County, and hand off their findings to the Early Childhood Coalition, an identified steering committee for the continuation of this work.

The event will take place Tuesday, October 27, at 1:00 p.m., in Conference Room MAR1 102 on the campus of Ivy Tech, Marion.

In the summer of 2015, a multi-disciplinary team of five Taylor students (Taylor Hughes, Lauren Pfeifer, Charlie Richert, Courtney Selle and Nicole Walker) guided by Dr. Stephen King, Professor of Political Science, collaborated with Grant County community members to research and advocate the cause of increasing the quality and quantity of early childhood education opportunities in Grant County. The culmination of research and collaboration resulted in a document entitled, Unite Our Efforts: A Collective Impact Proposal for Early Education in Grant County.

The purpose of Unite Our Efforts is:

  1. To provide research to demonstrate that children with access to early education have a higher chance of meeting academic success benchmarks on schedule; and that economic and human investment in early childhood education generates comprehensive effects, including greater economic returns and increase in community flourishing.
  2. Make recommendations made to state the “next steps” Grant County community members can utilize as a tool for working towards the goal of making every child in Grant County kindergarten-ready. More specifically, the document proposes steps to optimize, coordinate, and support fruitful efforts in early education using a diverse social change model called the Collective Impact framework.

Key participants engaged in the process of the completion of these “next steps” include:

  • Tara Asbury, Grant Manager, Marion Community Schools
  • Charity Bailey, Director of Business Development, Grant County Economic Growth Council
  • Dawn Brown, Executive Director, Community Foundation
  • Lisa Cart, Healthy Families
  • Tony Cook, District 32 State Representative
  • Robyn Culley, Early Head Start Carey Services
  • Amy Eberle, Great Beginnings 
  • Mary Eckerle, Librarian, Marion Public Library
  • Tim Eckerle, Executive Director, Grant County Economic Growth Council
  • Lisa Felver, Teacher, Westview Elementary Kindergarten
  • Brett Garrett, Superintendent, Eastbrook Community Schools
  • Keri Higgins, Child Care Solutions
  • Allison Hillis, Bona Vista
  • Michele Kelsay, Principal, Riverview Elementary School
  • Kevin Mahan, District 31 State Representative
  • Amy McKee, Paths to QUALITY Coach, Child Care Solutions
  • Brenda McVicker, Director of Elementary Education, Marion Schools
  • Suzanne Milligan, Child Care Solutions
  • Rachelle Myers, IAEYC
  • Danielle Reyburn, Westminster Pre School
  • Allison Palmer, IYI East Central Indiana Outreach Manager
  • Kaeleigh Porter, First Steps LPCC Coordinator
  • Cathy Queen, Early Head Start
  • Wendy Smedley, Principal, Summitville Elementary
  • Bruce Smith, Principal, West View Elementary
  • Andrew Sprock, Director, Circles
  • Emily Tracy, Principal, Park Elementary
  • Charlie Wallace, Chamber of Commerce
  • Kresha Warnock, Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences, Ball State University
  • Margaret Wilson, Treasurer, Marion Public Library
  • Lisa Welson, FSSI Healthy Families
  • Jocelyn Whittaker, Marion City Council
  • Lezlie Winter, Assistant Superintendent, Mississinewa Community Schools
  • Kerri Wortinger, Director of Pre School, Marion Community Schools
  • Stacy Wright, Pre-K Teacher, Westview Elementary

Taylor project participants say their goal is to ensure future Taylor involvement.