H. W. Wilkey Elementary School was recently chosen as one of only ten pilot schools in the state for the Toyota bornlearning Academies program.
A press conference was held in Frankfort on Wednesday, with Governor Steve Beshear in attendance, when Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. announced the news and presented a grant in the amount of $115,000 to United Way of Kentucky to be used for funding the programs at the chosen elementary schools.
Each of the schools awarded this opportunity, including Wilkey, will be alotted an amount of $11,500 for the year to be used for program costs.
A press release from Toyota explained that “the Toyota bornlearning Academies will help teach parents and caregivers of children from prenatal to 5 years old how to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.”
Touted by the company as an “innovative approach to early childhood development and parent engagement,” the program’s goal is to help parents create a learning environment for their young children so that they are well-prepared once they begin with their formal education.
“This grant will help our preschool teachers offer even more educational opportunities for the parents and students they serve.” said Wilkey Principal Gwen Lucas, “Through these, parents can learn how to provide the kind of daily at-home learning that will support their child’s ability to be successful both in school and outside the classroom. We’re just really excited about it.”
“Hopefully, it’ll change the way we interact with our children,” explained Jennifer Hall Logsdon, who will be co-coordinating the program at Wilkey, “It will help us make every moment a learning opportunity.”
TMMK President Wil James was quoted in the Toyota press release as saying, “It’s so important that young people be prepared to learn when they enter school, yet, we all know that too many children are unprepared upon enrollment, and it is a difficult struggle for them to ever catch up. The Toyota bornlearning Academies will help parents become more aware of how their young children learn.”
Governor Beshear, who is known for placing a heavy emphasis on early childhood education, also spoke in support of the program, which Logsdon called “very structured and research driven.”
The local program, which will consist of six gatherings, is slated to begin next month, though the October date is still tentative.
Logsdon explained that the entire family is encouraged to attend the session, which will begin with a family-style sit-down meal.
Sitting down to eat together is important, but is “something that often gets overlooked in our busy lives,” Logsdon said, explaining why they felt it was important to include this opportunity in the program.
After the meal, there will be an information session for parents, with childcare provided for little ones who might get restless sitting quietly.
Finally, there will be fun, interactive learning activities for parents and kids to participate in that parents can also recreate later at home.
Program co-coordinator and pre-school teacher Donita Ashley summed up the program’s goal by saying, “It’s all about helping parents find and make the most of those simple, but teachable moments in daily life.”