Two 4-year-olds in lab coats launched a model rocket they’d built themselves and kicked off an event to honor early childhood educators at HISD’s Hattie Mae White building on Tuesday, April 15. Made of paper, PVC pipe and an empty water bottle, the two tiny scientists were able to explain without hesitation how the contraption worked, thanks to the hard work of early educators at Fonwood Early Childhood Center.
The district celebrated national “Week of the Young Child” a bit later than usual because of STAAR testing, but that didn’t impact enthusiasm. Artwork graced the walls of the board auditorium, and early childhood educators gathered for refreshments and networking, as young children from HISD’s early childhood centers provided a walking and talking museum just outside the doors.
Ben Jones, STEM educator, gave a keynote address that highlighted the need for quality instruction in the pre-K years —particularly STEM, which was this year’s focus. As he addressed the crowd of early educators from across the district, Jones stressed that events like these are important because teaching early education isn’t as easy as many think. He joked that although he taught high school for many years, he still isn’t qualified to teach kindergarten.
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Numerous studies have shown that young children who receive a strong early education from infancy to age five do better in reading and math and are more likely to stay in school longer, graduate from high school, and attend a four-year college. HISD is “focusing attention on our early childhood programs and educators,” said Marcela Landestoy, curriculum specialist in early childhood education. “(The event) is an opportunity to focus on research-based content such as STEM and better meet the needs of our youngest learners.”
Marianne Keating and Gemma Lancanlale of Fonwood ECC say Week of the Young Child supports these goals. “This gives us a chance to collaborate, but we also get to listen to others and learn,” said STEM science teacher Keating.
HISD has eight early childhood centers, 158 schools that host pre-k programs and 730 pre-K teachers across the district. For more information on HISD early education offerings, contact the Early Childhood Department at email@example.com