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More than 1,000 Classrooms Awarded Texas School Ready! Certification
After nearly two weeks of missing their students’ smiles because of Hurricane Ike, Margaret Carmona and Irasema Barrera have their own reason to smile. Their classroom has received the Texas School Ready! certification for the 2008-2009 school year.
“We were closed for 12 days. Two trees fell on our property, one crashing through the office. I can’t tell you what it meant to find out the news that we were going to receive this Texas School Ready! certification. It rivaled the joy I felt at seeing my students for the first time since the storm,” said Carmona, pre-kindergarten teacher at SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasurers, a nonprofit early childhood development center for homeless children in East Houston. “Our parents can now feel secure in the knowledge that their children are being given a strong educational foundation,” said Carmona.
Pre-kindergarten teachers statewide are finding out today whether their classrooms received the certification from the State Center for Early Childhood Education at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. For the 2008-2009 school year, 1,123 classrooms will receive the certification.
The Texas School Ready! certification program, which is part of the state center, determines whether children are being prepared for kindergarten in their licensed childcare, Head Start or public pre-k classrooms.
Staff at pre-schools and centers apply to the state center and provide information about their programs, and Texas public school districts provide students’ early reading and social development skills when they begin kindergarten.
“This program is the only one of its kind in the nation. It wouldn’t be possible without help from the school districts,” said Susan Landry, Ph.D., the state center’s director and the Michael Matthew Knight Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Barrera, who teaches with Carmona, says the certification gives her a sense of fulfillment. “It is validation that what we are teaching our students is working. They are going on to do well in kindergarten and that touches my heart. We want to make a difference,” said Barrera.
Each year, pre-schools, Head Start and childcare centers can voluntarily apply to the state center for this certification. Likewise, every center that received it this year will have to reapply for the next school year.
For the 2008-2009 school year, 1,508 classrooms applied for the certification.
According to Landry, the next big challenge for the program is continued growth. “A loss of funding from the Texas Workforce Commission of $12 million is making it more difficult for us to expand the Texas School Ready! program,” said Landry. “But even with the loss of funding, because of support from the Texas Education Agency, we were able to grow the program by more than 42 percent. Last year, 467 classrooms received the certification.”
For information, to apply, or to find out which classrooms are accredited with Texas School Ready! Certification, log onto www.TexasSchoolReady.org or call 1-800-315-7204.
By Melissa McDonald, Institutional Advancement
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