Helios Funding Supports Early Childhood Success in Northern Arizona

Posted on: September 23, 2010

Helios Education Foundation invested nearly $300,000 toward an initiative that will allow Northern Arizona University's College of Education to partner with the Flagstaff Unified School District on a professional development outreach program for early childhood educators and providers in northern Arizona.

The collaboration will initially provide professional development training opportunities at Flagstaff schools, home childcare providers and local centers, with outreach expanding to outlying communities and providers in the second year of the program. In addition, the project will include research on what works in professional development.

"Helios Education Foundation believes that increasing the skill set of early childhood education teachers and practitioners positively impacts the success of the early learner," said Karen Ortiz, Vice President and Program Director of Early Childhood Education of Helios Education Foundation. "This collaborative partnership will provide professional development to early childhood teachers and practitioners leading to an articulated system among the university, the school district and the community."

The funding will support an outreach effort designed to help early childhood educators in schools and in the community identify and understand the best practices to help children succeed, explained Daniel Kain, former dean of the college and author of the proposal. Interim dean Gypsy Denzine will oversee the project for NAU.

"We are appreciative that Helios believes professional development is a crucial component of making a difference and improving the lives of children by improving the skills of their providers," Kain said.

Barbara Hickman, superintendent of Flagstaff schools, added, "This project helps us join forces to improve the conditions for our youngest community members-an investment that can enhance the whole educational enterprise."

Kain described the program, as a multidimensional outreach effort that may ultimately lead to the creation of a physical "learning hub" for early childhood education, including a childcare center, the development of P-20 early childhood curriculum and internship opportunities for NAU education majors.

"Younger children should be given every opportunity to grow, learn and reach their full potential, and we can be a part of that by helping those who work with them build upon their own strengths as educators," Kain said.

Category: Early Grade Success

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