Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


June 16, 2014

Corbin, Ashland schools among 25 beneficiaries of ‘bornlearning Academy’ grants

FRANKFORT — A Corbin primary center serving grades K-2 and an Ashland elementary school are among the 25 beneficiaries of “bornlearning Academy” grants from Kentucky’s Race to the Top Learning grants and 14 more of the academies to assist parents of pre-kindergarten children will be funded by Toyota Manufacturing.

The academies provide workshops for parents of soon-to-be enrolled kindergarten students, showing parents how to use everyday activities for teaching and learning opportunities.

“For parents with very young children, especially first-time parents, any type of information you can get is very useful and helpful,” said Mark Daniels, director of Instructional Support for Corbin Independent Schools.

The Corbin Primary Center and Poage Elementary in Ashland will each receive one of 25 the “Kentucky All-STARS” grants which pay for training teachers and staff at Family Resource Centers to teach a series of six parent workshops. Crabbe Elementary in Ashland already operates the bornLearning program, having received a grant from Toyota in 2012 to train its staff.

The Race to the Top grant is providing $1.4 million to expand the program to 150 academies across the state beginning this year. Previously Toyota and United Way of Kentucky began a five-year statewide process of starting the academies in Kentucky in 2012.

The goal for Toyota is to fund startup of 70 academies by the end of the five years, including the 14 announced Monday along with those the state is funding through its Race to the Top grant.

“What we hope to do with it is involve parents in our school through our family resource center that may not have a relationship with the school already,” said Poage Principal Jamie Lester. “Our target audience is people who do not have a connection to our school yet. The goal is to building a relationship as such when the time does come that they already know everything about that.”

Lester said the Ashland family resource center will be available at Poage Elementary, on site, two days a week during the school year.

“We want them to know our family resource director, the school secretary, the principal, all those people, before their kids even get into our school,” Lester said. “It’s about building relationships.”

Daniels said the academy uses proven strategies which have been researched and tested and shown to work. They include workshops specifically directed at fathers and even grandparents to help children learn and be better prepared for kindergarten and school.

“There are a tremendous number of grandparents raising their grandchildren in this area and across the country, really,” Daniels said. Other sessions show parents how to use common activities to explain patterns and words as well as nutrition and general health components.

Daniels said the school just learned it is one of this year’s recipients and Megan Howard, who will coordinate the program, was attending a workshop on the program Monday.

Helen Carroll, manager of community relations at Toyota, said the reason for the automobile manufacturer’s interest is simple.

“Toyota’s growth and success depend on the quality of the workforce,” she explained. “We need workers who are prepared through high quality education and training. We have learned that workers prepared for college and career start out as children prepared for kindergarten. And that starts with parents.”

Toyota plans to invest $1 million in the academies by 2016. Beshear said the Race to the Top grant provided the state an opportunity to build on the proven success of the academies funded by Toyota in a partnership with United Way of Kentucky.

“Parents and caregivers often need support and guidance on how to best teach their children and set them on the right track for learning,” Beshear said. “These academies provide them with tools to prepare their young children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.”

Others funded by the state grants this year are Justice Elementary in Clark County, Eden Elementary in Martin County, and Tompkinsville Elementary in Monroe County. Elementary programs in Graves, Livingston, Logan, Campbell, Pendleton, Shelby, Casey, Cumberland, Washington, Mason, Owsley, Leslie, Breckinridge, Hardin, and Meade counties also received state grants.

Newly funded Toyota academies are in Bell, Daviess, Fayette, Franklin, Hardin, Henderson, Kenton, Leslie, Oldham and Perry counties.

Toyota previously funded the program at Crabbe Elementary in Ashland, Berea Elementary and Hiseville Elementary in Barren County.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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