New early childhood programs coming

NEW ULM – Several new early childhood and family education (ECFE) programs were part of the updates shared with the District 88 School Board during a study session Thursday.

The new ECFE programs include: LT3 (Learning Together for 3-year-olds); ECFE for Drug Court Participants; an outreach/home visitor program; and ECFE on Wheels, reported ECFE Coordinator Betty Uehling.

LT3 is an additional pre-school option developed due to an increase in the number of pre-school-aged students receiving special education services next year, said Uehling.

LT3 will be housed in the Annex. It will serve up to eight students on individual education plans and 10 regular education students.

The regular education students will pay tuition to participate in the program. Tuition is $125 per month.

The class will be team-taught by an early childhood special education (ECSE) teacher and an early childhood (ECFE) teacher. An ECSE paraprofessional will also help out in the classroom.

The program will meet 2.5 hours a day. The students on individual education plans will attend four days a week, and the regular education students will attend three days.

Funding for the regular education portion of this program will run through Community Education.

ECFE for Drug Court Participants will be a collaboration between probation, the court system, mental health practitioners and ECFE, said Uehling.

The impetus for the program was an observation by a judge that many Drug Court participants were parents of young children, said Uehling. Last year, nine one-year-old children were in Drug Court with their parents.

Participants in Drug Court will be ordered to attend a special 16-week ECFE class with their child, to help the parents make positive connections with their children and to provide them with parenting information.

Funding for this program comes from a grant, said Uehling.

The staff to implement the program will be trained in a curriculum called Celebrating Families this summer, added Uehling.

The parent-child portion of the class will be taught by an ECFE early childhood teacher and a paraprofessional.

A licensed ECFE parent educator and a mental health therapist will co-lead the parent education time.

The outreach/home visitor program will be funded through the Cottonwood River Integration Collaborative (CRIC), pending approval from the state, reported Uehling.

The outreach/home visitor will connect with qualifying families, working on literacy and school readiness skills. Outreach locations may include childcare provider homes/centers and common rooms of apartment buildings. Through these outreach opportunities, the visitor will make connections with families who will then receive home visits.

The position is tentatively planned at four hours a day, five days a week.

ECFE on Wheels will be run this summer thanks to a grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, also reported Uehling.

ECFE staff will visit 25 licensed childcare providers in the county three times each.

One visit will focus on training childcare providers on social/emotional development, one on literacy skills, and one on math skills.

Each provider will receive about $300 worth of materials to keep.

The required match for this program will come from Community Education.

Teacher evaluation

Another report made during the study session covered a teacher evaluation model developed by the Minnesota Department of Education that is being piloted this school year in New Ulm.

The main components of the pilot include assessing teacher practice (through individual growth plans, peer reviews and summative evaluations by principals); assessing student engagement (via student surveys, classroom observations and peer observation of engagement); and student achievement and growth (via setting learning goals and shared performance goals), explained a team of three teachers that led the implementation of the pilot locally.

The team discussed some specifics of implementation, providing an overall positive perspective of the model’s impact on teachers’ learning and growth.

All the reports were for-information-only.

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