School news for Dec. 13

Governor awards First Step grant to county

Governor Northam announced this week that Rappahannock County was one of six recipients to receive grant funding for quality preschool education for at-risk children.

In a mixed-delivery grant made possible by the generosity of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) and in consultation with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), Rappahannock County Public Schools will receive $250,000 over a 2.5-year period to continue the First Step program in collaboration with Child Care and Learning Center.

First Step was created as a result of the sudden closure of Head Start at the start of the school year 2018-2019. RCPS and Child Care and Learning Center partnered to offer a temporary Pre-K alternative for the children that were denied the Head Start services. This grant will help to create a permanent solution for continued preschool education for the young children in the Rappahannock County community. According to Governor Northam in a press release, “The investment we make in quality preschool education today will have long-term returns for our children, our future workforce, and our economy.”

According to RCPS Superintendent Shannon Grimsley, “This project is truly an exemplar of what a community can do when we come together around a common goal.  In this case, providing high quality services to our neediest families with children of preschool age became paramount with the loss of Head Start funding.  We are so pleased to be able to provide this service and look forward to what we can accomplish together.”

“We at CCLC are thrilled with the news,” said CCLC Board Member Eve Brooks. “The grant proposal was truly a collaborative effort under Superintendent Shannon Grimsley’s leadership. The public/private partnership behind the mixed delivery grant with the 23 organizational supporters and participants promises to become the backbone of improved services to young children and families.”

Added Lisa Pendleton, CCLC Program Director: “On behalf of the families served by the First Step Collaboration, we would like to thank Governor Northam, VECF, and VDOE for approving the Mixed Delivery Grant for Rappahannock County.  For parents, just having the peace of mind that our children will continue to have the opportunity for early childhood education before entering Kindergarten is everything.”

County Administrator, Garrey W. Curry, Jr., thanked “school staff and private providers for their well orchestrated effort applying for this much needed grant that will establish a lasting program to assist Rappahannock County’s most vulnerable youth.”

— Holly Jenkins

CCLC names new executive director

Lisa Paine-Wells of Front Royal becomes executive director of CCLC. Courtesy photo

The Child Care and Learning Center has announced the appointment of Lisa Paine-Wells of Front Royal to lead the organization as Executive Director.

“We were pleased to meet Lisa and learn of her experience in child welfare, behavioral health and juvenile justice and thrilled when we found that she also has the skills to provide supportive leadership to our team’’ said Kathi Dutilh, CCLC Board Chair. “She will help us to expand services, while supporting our strong child care and early learning team lead by Lisa Pendleton.”

Paine-Wells brings extensive understanding of children and family services to the Child Care and Learning Center. She has been a successful project management consultant for over 15 years. Prior positions include Administrator and Senior Project Director of Kids Insight and Senior Consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), based in Baltimore, Maryland. Among her successes is helping two states reduce their foster care rates through a team conferencing model. She is a mentor with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northwest Virginia and a former Warren County foster parent.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to support the Child Care and Learning Center staff and Board in providing quality, affordable child care for children in Rappahannock County,” she said. “I’m looking forward to participating in the creation of a network of support for children and families in 2019.”

The CCLC Board has commissioned a study of children and family needs in Rappahannock County. With support from the Path Foundation, CCLC has contracted with Child Focus, Inc. http://childfocuspartners.com. The well recognized group is now completing that study. Its conclusions will be included in a report to the CCLC Board to be issued in January 2019.

This has been a time of rapid change at CCLC, starting last summer when School Superintendent Shannon Grimsley approached CCLC to form a public-private partnership to serve the children left behind when Head Start announced that it would not be serving Rappahannock County children in 2018-19. Soon thereafter the County Supervisors voted to fund the Head Start type program now called the First Step Collaboration for low income three and four-year olds. As a result, CCLC was able to hire Carol Lucking to serve as Family and Child Service Coordinator. Lucking provides parenting skills development and brings years of counseling, social service and community-based counseling to CCLC.

Sustaining the First Step Program, and adding children who also qualify, requires ongoing funding and creative energies. In addition to the 17 children supported by the county funds, The Headwaters Foundation provided a grant to assist in funding three additional children for part of the year to bring the number of First Step children to 23. The public private partnership forged this summer to respond to the loss of Head Start is a positive first step to meeting the needs of all children in the county.

This fall Shannon Grimsley, the RCPS and CCLC Board worked together to write and submit a grant application for the Mixed Delivery Grant awarded this week by Governor Northam.

— Eve Brooks

WCDS shops for Toys for Tots

Wakefield Country Day School third grade students shop for toys to donate to Toys for Tots.

WCDS third graders shown with their teacher, Becky Ernest, as they buy toys to donate to Toys for Tots. Courtesy Photo

In a classroom service project that began in September, the children earned their shopping money by doing a variety of chores for friends and neighbors to earn change. As a class they earned $575 to spend on their shopping spree.

“This is my tenth year of challenging WCDS students with this service project, and over the years students have raised more than $6,500 to spend on gifts for other children,” teacher Becky Ernest says gratefully.

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