Early Childhood and Elementary Services

Early Child and Elementary Services supports child care programs, preschools, elementary schools and Community Early Childhood Councils in strengthening the services they offer to children and families. Promise Neighborhood provides coaching and classroom interventions that are strengthening the early childhood community in the neighborhood. In the elementary schools, academic coaches tutor students who need extra help to achieve their best.

Through collaboration with other Promise Neighborhood initiatives, this staff strives for these results:

  • Children enter kindergarten ready to learn
  • Students are proficient in core academic subjects
  • Students are healthy
  • Students live in stable communities
  • Students have access to 21st century learning tools


Storywalk  Featuring Pumpkin Jack

storywalk 2015

The Clay County Community Early Childhood Council recently opened the Community Storywalk at Rawlings and Stinson Park in Manchester. This storywalk was replicated after the original project designed by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.  With funding provided by Promise Neighborhood – Berea College, Save the Children and Clay County Public Library the council was able to complete the project that incorporates family engagement, literacy skills and health and wellness. Families are able to enjoy a storybook by reading pages that are mounted at stations along the walking trail. The inaugural kick-off event featured “The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree.” 

Storywalk 2 2015 jpgThe author, Ann Shelby was on hand to sign copies of the book that was free to all children that attended. Community partners were available at the event to do activities with families and provide give-a-ways. Over 200 people were in attendance. This month the storywalk is featuring “Pumpkin Jack” by Will Hubbell. Children that visit the storywalk and take a picture at the first post will receive a special Halloween treat from the Clay County Public Library.  





Dr. Seuss celebrations encourage reading

Sock day line
















Green eggs, crazy hats and Star-Bellied Sneetches are some of the ingredients Dr. Seuss used to entice children to read. Owsley County Elementary School used Dr. Seuss – inspired activities for a week to raise awareness about reading. “I was wanting to show students and parents you can make reading and learning fun!” says Academic Specialist Kendra Combs. With activities like Pajama Day, Wacky Wednesday (crazy sock day) and lots of reading and story time, it looks like she succeeded.

pajama dayreading with Glenn Baker










Councils receive oral health grant

Promise Neighborhood Early Childhood Specialists Chelsi Hinkle, Jennifer Bryant and Megan Ward attend a training provided by the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition.The Kentucky Oral Health Commission recently awarded grants to all three of the Early Childhood Councils (ECC) in the Promise Neighborhood counties. Our early childhood specialists work with these councils to support school readiness. Attention to dental health for children is especially important because dental cavities are the most prevalent chronic disease among U.S. children. More than 40 percent of children have tooth decay when they reach kindergarten.

The new grants will engage parents in oral health training and enlist them in sharing the information with other parents. Staff members participated in writing the winning proposals for their ECCs. Each of the councils appointed our staff members—Jennifer Bryant, Chelsi Hinkle and Megan Ward—to provide the oral health training for parents in their communities.

Promise Neighborhood Early Childhood Specialists Chelsi Hinkle, Jennifer Bryant and Megan Ward attend a training provided by the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition.

Video games can entice students to learn math

Betty's mapOne of the best ways to reach students is to appeal to their interests. Goose Rock Elementary Academic Specialist Betty Gregory knows that. She likes to talk with students about the importance of math and various ways in which it’s used, pointing out that technology like video games is one of those ways.

Gregory’s approach, plus the individual attention she gives students through tutoring, has proven to work. During the 2013 – 14 school year, she tutored with 41 students who scored apprentice on the   state KPREP test. She worked with students and their teacher on a daily basis to ensure these students improved their math concepts and abilities. As a result, 37 students, which was 90 percent of her caseload, improved their scores.

Gregory wants to see the same or better success this year so she’s not forgetting about one piece of what got her there. Video game designers still use math to create those games the students play. “With this notion in mind, I decided to create a bulletin board that centered more on what interested my students.  I want them to know that math is amazing because it is used in almost every aspect of our lives.” Gregory wants everyone to know, “Students at Goose Rock Elementary are ready to tackle the game of math.”

Summer is the time to blossom

If a child can identify only one letter of the alphabet, he or she isn’t ready for kindergarten. Jennifer Bryant, Owsley County Early Childhood Specialist, discovered this was true of one of her students so she knew it was time for special summer intervention. Knowledge of the alphabet is one sign that a child may be ready for kindergarten.

At the end of the school year, all three Promise Neighborhood Early Childhood Specialists assessed the learning of their preschool students. Bryant identified students exiting preschool who were just short of being ready for kindergarten then planned home visits to work with them during the summer. “I knew the students well from many months of working in the classroom with them.  I knew their strengths and weaknesses.  What I didn’t know is how much the students could learn from one or two visits a week,” Jennifer says.

Counting on home visit 2For the student who couldn’t recognize letters, Bryant demonstrated how to use a letter chart to identify three letters of the alphabet. At the beginning of her next visit with the child, Bryant said she couldn’t believe what she found—the student identified all three letters in upper and lower case. “She also used the technique I had shown her to identify the letters we would be working on that day without any assistance from me. She has continued to amaze me with how much she has learned over these short few weeks,” Bryant says.

Thanks to early intervention, this student will begin kindergarten on a level playing field with her classmates.