Bright Futures early childhood educators are optimistic positive changes coming: Viewpoint

Watch Kejo Kelly in action on any given day, and you know immediately that she loves her job and, most importantly, she loves the children.

The little ones at Bright Futures at Mason Wright, the early education center featured in the New York Times Magazine piece reprinted in today’s Sunday Republican, are in good hands.

In Kelly’s classroom, two little girls can tell a visitor the name of every piece of plastic food they pick up as they neaten their nook. They are eager to chatter and share as they complete the chore before they can move on to another fun activity with Miss Kejo.

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At a play station across the room, two boys laugh as they make bubbles, an activity that puts their fine motor skills to work. Another boy is curled up in the arms of a teacher’s assistant as she reads him a book.

It’s all more than play in these classrooms and far from being babysitting, explain Kelly and Deb Stasiowski, the executive director of Bright Futures. These “little people” are “really starting to grow and learn. They are little sponges. They can grow and learn so much,” says Stasiowski.

Both women’s passion for educating the youngest of our children has been with them since they were young themselves. Both are mothers who can vouch firsthand for the differences that early childhood education made in the lives of their own children. And, both have well over a decade of experience in their field.

They’re also familiar with the facts that many children who enter kindergarten frequently arrive without the needed skills to succeed in the classroom because they haven’t had the access to early education.

“Kids in kindergarten now are farther behind than those in child care,” says Stasiowski. “It’s harder for them to catch up. (We) need to have the funding to have these children catch up.”

“We are helping shape their little minds,” adds Kelly. “It’s my passion. It’s something I always wanted to do. It’s something I feel plays a part in children’s early development.”

That’s the primary reason, Kelly says, that she agreed to be interviewed for the Times’ story. Her ultimate hope was to help find solutions for the shortcomings in the nation’s early education system and address the broad range of issues, from pay disparity for teachers to equitable access to quality childcare for all families. By reprinting the piece and sharing perspectives on the issues today and in the weeks to come, The Republican hopes it can help foster a community discussion.

When Kelly was first interviewed by the Times more than a year ago, Bright Futures was Arbors Kids, a for-profit center, located within the Mason Wright Senior Living facility on Walnut Street for the past 13 years. On Jan. 2, it became Bright Futures Early Learning Center, a nonprofit sponsored by the Mason Wright Foundation.

Posted in 01/28/18 by Cynthia Simison

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