Cynthia Hudson of 21st Century Child Development
Center uses bright flags to teach colors.
Early childhood educators created a Stinky
Cheese Men during a "Celebration of Learning".
Vivian Hudson of Tendercare University dons
a magician's costume for her presentation.
Ginger Johnson shows the Friendship Rules
book she made for her students.
Early SUCCESS leads to Celebration of Learning
Local early childhood educators are wrapping up 16 weeks of formal
training in early language, communication, literacy and social skills
to help their young students learn about reading and writing before
they reach kindergarten. The training was provided through Strategies
for Urban Child Care, Education, Support and Services (Early SUCCESS),
an early childhood educator professional development grant from
the U.S. Dept of Education, secured through the UTC Children’s
"We have over 70 early childhood educators who work with children
from low-income families in the program. These participants are
very dedicated and have come for 16 Monday evenings to learn how
to better teach their children. While the formal training is ending,
they will continue to work with early literacy trainers through
October in refining their skills in fostering language, literacy
and social skills in children. They will also observe at the Children's
Center and view videotapes of best practice," according to
Anne Gamble, Director of the UTC Children's Center.
Participation in Early SUCCESS means early childhood educators can
receive training and $1,000 worth of books and other literacy and
language development resources for the classroom. The money is given
during the course of the training so teachers can begin to purchase
materials they are learning to use.
Early SUCCESS participants have a unique opportunity to improve
their ability to teach and to improve children’s lives as
literacy learners, according to Gamble. A "Celebration of Learning"
brought the first group of teachers together to present what they
After attending the Early SUCCESS training sessions, Pearlene Kelly,
supervisor at 21st Century Childcare Development was inspired. “I’m
ready to go back to the classroom! It has been a wonderful class,”
Kelly has been a supervisor for one year, and had been a day care
teacher two years before, and she said she learned a lot of ideas
that she took back to her teachers. “I made a book of things
people love to do. The words ‘people love to eat’ are
on a page with pictures of people eating. Another page says ‘people
love animals’ and there are pictures of people with animals.
Children as young as two and three years old can understand these
concepts,” Kelly said.
Kelly is requiring all the teachers at her school to make letterboxes.
“The letter on the box will change, and the pictures inside
the letter box will coordinate with the featured letter. I started
with the letter ‘m’ and had pictures inside the box
of Mickey Mouse, motorcycle, man, and the children loved it,”
Recruitment for second year participants is beginning now and by
November, 100 early childhood educators will begin training.
Chattanooga is one of nine sites in the country to receive the Early
SUCCESS Grant. Grant guidelines required 100 participants for this,
the first year of the grant, 100 participants are needed for next
year and 100 teachers serve as a control group.
Applicants must come from early childhood centers where at least
half of the children are living in low-income homes. Teachers of
children age 30 months to five years are best served. The teachers
who apply must commit to 80 hours of professional development training
at no cost. This includes: 32 hours of direct instruction in fostering
language, communication, literacy and social skills; 48 hours within
the classroom environment implementing and refining the new strategies
learned. Directors of participating programs must also attend all
training sessions. To evaluate the teaching skills administered
through the grant, students’ progress will be assessed to
determine the quality of the training prior to and post teacher
Early childhood educators are encouraged to participate in the second
year of training. If you would like more information, please call
or email Early SUCCESS
project manager Kerry Guess Hofer at (423)425-5375.