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First-Ever Kindergarten Dialogue Held in Scranton to Help Pave the Way for Children’s Success

(Scranton, PA) More than 70 early childhood and kindergarten educators and administrators attended a “Kindergarten Dialogue” earlier this month at Marywood University in a first-of-its-kind session locally. The event brought together Scranton School District personnel and the Early Childhood Education community along with community stakeholders to lay the foundation for a purposeful collaboration where teachers and students are supported with an aligned system between Early Childhood Education and elementary schools.

Thirty-five Scranton School District representatives from district administration, preschool, Kindergarten teachers and principals joined 32 Early Childhood Education representatives from 11 Head Start Classrooms and 11 early learning centers and five community stakeholders. The dialogue was led by Lisa Berardelli, education director for the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties and Gary Drapek, president and CEO of the United Way. Dr. Ann Pipinksi, president emeritus of Johnson College, led a panel discussion to share best practices in preschool and kindergarten curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

“Successful Kindergarten entry requires a connected and cohesive approach,” noted Mrs. Berardelli.

Early learning programs work to ensure school readiness. They have a strong relationship with the families of incoming Kindergarten students and valuable information about their students’ progress. Transferring this relationship and information to Kindergarten teachers supports a child’s successful entry to Kindergarten. “Building relationships with families and with school districts will help ensure a child's success when he or she enters kindergarten as the information can be shared and utilized,” stated Grace Hogan, executive director of Day Nursery Association.

From the school’s perspective, this collaboration allows supports to be put in place for kindergarten students before they even start school. The dialogue provided the opportunity for Kindergarten teachers to share their expectations for learning and development. For me the biggest benefit is an understanding of the early childhood world and their programs. There are not any negatives to the collaboration. There are only positive outcomes. It’s a win –win,” said Colleen Leonard, principal, McNichols Plaza Elementary school.

During the event, attendees discussed processes for data sharing; explored opportunities to better align curricula; and planned transition activities.  The program was supported by funding from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning P3 Prototype Stipend and the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties. The program was developed by a team of stakeholders representing all of the meeting attendees.

The team includes:

  • Molly Abdalla, Title Program Manager, Scranton School District;
  • Lisa Berardelli, Education Director for the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties;
  • Meghan Degilio, Education Manager, SLHDA Inc. Head Start & Early Head Start;
  • Grace Hogan, Executive Director, Day Nursery Association;
  • Elizabeth Keiper, Director/Owner, Freckles and Frills, Inc.
  • Colleen Leonard, Principal, McNichols Plaza Elementary
  • Natalie Lucas, Center Director, Fricchione Day Care Center;
  • Tammy Marcinkevich, Director of Child Care, United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania;
  • Nicole McNeil, Center Director, UNC's Bellevue Center;
  • Mary Beth Rogers, Administrator, Day Nursery Association;
  • Angela Walker, Transition/Literacy Manager, SLHDA - Headstart;
  • Donna Wood, Center Directior, Little People Daycare School (West);

“Everyone seems to be on the same page regarding the questions, concerns and hopes we have to make the process smoother so that it benefits everyone involved, especially the children,” noted Ann Yencha, North Scranton I HeadStart teacher.