Districtwide initiative supports development and education of Mount Vernon infants and toddlers
MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (January 31, 2018) – The Mount Vernon City School District kicked off its ‘Mount Vernon Basics’ campaign, an initiative that seeks to provide parents with the tools and resources needed to support their child’s early education, with a public event on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018.
Inspired by the research of Dr. Ronald Ferguson, the Mount Vernon Basics program shares tips and tools for families and caregivers to boost their children’s cognitive and social emotional development through simple, everyday tasks. The program focuses on five evidence-based principles that support the early development of infants and toddlers ages 0-3.
“This program helps us reach out to our parent community and empower them with skills to help facilitate the learning process for kids,” Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton, Mount Vernon City School District Superintendent of Schools. “Tonight is about letting parents know what resources are available to them, and doing so is how we bridge the gap between home and school.”
The 90-minute kickoff event, sponsored by Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy, Assistant Superintendent of School Improvement and the district Parent Liaisons, was held at Friendship for Tots Early Child Learning Center and provided Mount Vernon parents of children ages 0-3 with an overview of the Mount Vernon Basics program.
Members of the Mount Vernon community, including Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas; Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden, Executive Director of the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau; and Wanda White, Board Trustee Vice President, addressed the parents and caregivers in attendance. Parents were then encouraged to participate in interactive sessions focused on the five principles that comprise the Basics program:
-Maximize Love, Manage Stress
-Talk, Sing, and Point
-Count, Group, and Compare
-Explore through Movement and Play
-Read and Discuss Stories
The Mount Vernon Pre-K staff talked to parents about how reading and discussing stories with their children can strengthens the neurons in a child’s brain and develop their language, both receptive and expressive. Additionally, Agatha Lorenzo from Scholastic was present to donate books at the Read and Discuss Stories station.
Eileen Oddo, owner and director at Musical Munchkins, discussed with parents how encouraging a child’s musical interest strengthens their neurons and develops their gross and fine motor skills.
At the Explore through Movement and Play station, Sean Zemlyak, physical education teacher at Graham Elementary School and Mount Vernon High School, demonstrated how headbands and bandanas can be used for playtime at home.
“We close the achievement gap as soon as our students are born,” said Dr. Gayle White-Wallace, Standards Administrator for Pre-K, ELA, Literacy and Social Studies (Elementary). “The Mount Vernon Basics is about loving, it’s about caring, and most of all, it’s about spending quality time with our children.”
“College begins at the cradle,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas. “I’m excited to be a part of this journey and support everything that the school district does by making sure that the city works to extend that safety net, extend that culture of learning, extend that nourishment that’s provided and help translate it into everyday, practical skills, in life.”
The Mount Vernon Basics campaign is an effort to help support another districtwide initiative: Mount Vernon MBK Alliance. My Brother’s Keeper, established by former President Obama, aims to ensure that the nation’s boys and young men of color have equal opportunity to achieve academic and social success and prosperity. The mission of the Mount Vernon MBK Alliance is to make the American dream available to all boys and young men of color as a priority, and to all students of the Mount Vernon City School District overall.
“One of the tenants associated with MBK centers around early literacy, making sure students are on or above grade level by the time they’re in third grade,” said Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton. “The more skills we give our parents, the more resources we put in their bag of tricks, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to close the learning gaps faced by our students.”
Through a series of videos, booklets, and ongoing workshops, parents in the Mount Vernon Community will have the opportunity to learn more about the Basics program, as well as tips for using everyday interactions to best support their children’s education and future success in life.
About the Mount Vernon City School District
With more than 8,000 students in 16 schools, the Mount Vernon City School District is committed to providing a quality education to its children as well as developing programs that meet the diverse academic and social needs of its students.