Early Works: An Initiative of the Children's Institute
With the launch of Early Works, the Children's Institute is expanding its work to include on-the-ground projects that clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of linking high-quality early childhood education with the elementary years. We know investment in the early years, beginning at birth, is one of the single-most effective ways of improving a child's academic and emotional success. With Early Works, Oregon joins a national movement demanding -- and building -- a better outcome for kids. Please join us here as we make it happen together.
A fifth-grade student at Earl Boyles learns in a multimedia classroom.
Earl Boyles Elementary School and the surrounding neighborhood, all within the David Douglas School District, became the first hub of our community-centered initiative in 2011. The children attending Earl Boyles face a host of risk factors related to the achievement gap, most notably poverty, language barriers and a lack of high-quality early educational experiences. As a result, test scores through fifth grade lag behind state standards.
The staff at Earl Boyles and David Douglas, led by Principal Ericka Guynes and Superintendent Don Grotting, shows great strength and resourcefulness. Earl Boyles has demonstrated a strong approach to school behavioral management through programs such as Positive Behavior Supports. It is also a SUN Community School, offering after school programing, a food pantry and other services for families and children. Earl Boyles is an ideal home for the initiative, a place where motivation and collaboration are already in place to address the challenges facing the community.
Yoncalla Elementary School is located in Douglas County’s rural Yoncalla, Oregon. Families living in Yoncalla face many risk factors, including high unemployment and poverty rates and a shortage of livable-wage jobs and health care. Test scores show that 80 percent of the district’s kindergarteners score below or well below entry level benchmarks, and only 41 percent of the district’s graduates pursue higher education. The existing early learning programs have narrow eligibility requirements and limited reach, so it is easy for children and families in Yoncalla to fall through the cracks.
Several key players in the community are lending their support and enthusiasm to the implementation of Early Works at Yoncalla Elementary. These include Douglas County Educational Service District Superintendent George Murdock, Yoncalla Elementary and Middle School Principal Jerry Fauci and several members of the Yoncalla School Board. Our partnership with Yoncalla Elementary School also includes the Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation. Early Childhood Development Program Officer Christy Cox is serving as a member of the leadership team.
Because Yoncalla is a rural area, it will offer an opportunity for Early Works to compare and contrast the strategies needed to support learning there with those we are putting into practicing at Earl Boyles, our urban site. For example, at Yoncalla Elementary there are about 200 children in grades kindergarten through eight, so addressing the needs of each and every incoming kindergartener is well within reach.
The Children’s Institute is partnering with the following organizations on the Early Works Initiative: