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Scholarship Program To Provide Another Boost For Early Childhood Education In Columbus

A new partnership led by Ohio State University seeks to expand the number of early childhood teachers in Columbus. 

Mike Foley reports.

OSU President Michael Drake says the university will collaborate with the City of Columbus, Columbus State Community College and Action for Children on a new $3.9 million-dollar effort called the Teacher Preparation Pipeline Scholarship Program. 

“The partnership will provide 100 scholarships over five years to preschool and childcare teachers who already have an associate degree but want to move on to a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Ohio State University. The graduates will agree to spend at least three years in a Columbus school classroom or childcare setting. They’ll be ensuring that this stream of highly qualified teachers will have the greatest impact where they’re needed the most, so they’ll be learning while doing and doing while learning.”

The new teachers will enhance the city’s effort to expand early childhood education. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says studies show that children with access to early education are more likely to succeed in grade school and as adults.

“This new Teacher Preparation Pipeline Scholarship expands opportunities for some of the most important people in our community – the educators that are going to prepare our youngest citizens to take advantage and grow into the shared prosperity that we want to see across this great city.”

The scholarship program will also benefit Ohio State’s Early Head Start Partnership, a collaboration of the city’s leading community agencies that offer a wide range of support to families. The groups came together for a roundtable discussion following the program’s announcement as part of an ongoing commitment to identify what’s working and where to improve. Dalauna Tillman of Kid’s Care Academy spoke of Caring Communities Birth to 3, a project that assists Columbus childcare centers with implementing a high quality continuity of care model.

“A lot of the children that are served across the country are grouped in ages that are already predetermined and not necessarily developmentally-based – most commonly six weeks to twelve months, twelve months to eighteen months, eighteen months to 3, 30 to 36 months. Can you imagine how disruptive that is, if you are transitioning every six to twelve months? As adults if we had to change jobs every 12 months, meet new people, get acquainted with the environment and new families - that would be stressful and disruptive. And so, this model assigns a primary care teacher for each child at enrollment and ideally continues this relationship until the child is three years of age, which does provide stability, it does provide support and most importantly it provides a better way to attach and bond with not only teacher and child but the family as a whole unit.”    

Another challenge for many families – transportation, so one advocate says centers need to be closer to neighborhoods, much like the Reeb Avenue Center’s proximity to a south side community. Officials say they’ve streamlined the process of enrolling families eligible for child care subsidies meaning kids are able to attend the centers sooner. And if there’s any doubt on what early childhood education means to families and their kids – just ask Miyah Logan, who has 3 children attending Columbus Early Learning Center.

“Having daycare has just opened up a lot of doors for our family…personally, coming from a family with no support. My oldest will be four this year. This is the first time he’s ever gone to daycare. Just seeing his reaction to being at school and being around people and the teachers and even the people who make his lunch - he loves it. He comes home and teaches me and his dad about everything he’s learned. He’ll read us books, everything. We came from being kids with kids to now being a family. We’re married, we have three beautiful children, we’re both working, we’re both going back to school. Having daycare has just been an amazing blessing for us.”    

Advocates are confident the 100 teachers coming from this new scholarship program will help more families like the Logans.

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. He earned Broadcasting and Journalism degrees from the University of Florida.