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The Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative
Based upon the belief that the development and education of all children from the earliest stages of their lives must be an absolute public priority, the mission of the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative is to identify all four year old children in the City of Tuscaloosa who are deemed academically at-risk and are not currently being served through other programs, and provide to them and to their families the best health and education services possible, including comprehensive family enrichment services.
Through a visionary collaboration between the City of Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama, Stillman College and members of the Tuscaloosa business community, the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative will engage city school system administrators and educators, as well as UA and Stillman faculty, staff and students, to offer the best health and education services possible for academically at-risk children and their families.
Comprehensive services to be offered include an expanded nine-month full-day Pre-K program; a five-week Jump Start summer term for children preparing to enter kindergarten; comprehensive family services and support programs; and research conducted in prevention, intervention and education in early childhood development.
Problem to Address
Presently, more than 230 preschool students are being served by the Tuscaloosa City Schools Pre-K program, while additional children are being served by other Pre-K providers (Head Starts, private day cares, etc.). Based upon City of Tuscaloosa projections, 178 at-risk, eligible students are NOT being served. That equates to 10 additional classrooms at an estimated annual cost of $1.1 million. Additional considerations include: space, operating costs, room set up, professional development, curriculum, etc.
The UA/Pre-K Partnership will focus the University’s resources and capacity—campus wide, across all departments and disciplines—on collaborative and effective relationships with the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative. This visionary partnership consists of high quality, comprehensive programming that focuses on the development of the child, his or her family, and the participating undergraduate and graduate students.
Tuscaloosa Pre-K “Power Aide” Corps
Work-study Student Interns
Service Learning Course Student Volunteers
Non-Course Student Volunteers
Tuscaloosa Jump Start Summer Volunteer
May Interim Training Course
1. Tuscaloosa Pre-K “Power Aide” Corps
The Tuscaloosa Pre-K Teacher Corps is a nine-month program that recruits area college graduates to serve as “Power Aides” in the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative. The program is designed for non-education majors and offers a host of benefits, including teacher aide training, a partial scholarship for master’s degree in early childhood development or education, job placement that includes full pay and benefits, and most importantly, the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children in areas of need within the City of Tuscaloosa.
The program entails Pre-K training received during a three-week interim course in May at The University of Alabama. During the interim course, student housing and a stipend will be provided. After the initial summer training each participant will be a certified teacher’s aide and placed in a summer Jump Start classroom for five weeks during June and July and will serve nine months in a critical-needs Pre-K classroom beginning in August of the 2007-08 school year.
2. Work-study Student Interns
The Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative will participate in the Federal Work-study awards program. As part of the Federal Work-study program, students are paid for their service to the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative. Work-study students are expected to serve at least ten (10) hours per week during the School Year, from September through early May. Weekly requirements include at least ten (10) hours spent working in a Pre-K classroom during the regular school day. During this time, interns work one-on-one or one-on-two with young children in the Pre-K session. Work-study interns arrange these hours in coordination with the Power Aide or classroom teacher.
3. Service Learning Course Student Volunteers
Multiple courses across disciplines entail service requirements which may be met through service at Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative sites. UA students are paired with preschool children for one-to-one support in school readiness skills.
UA service-learning opportunities are expected in association with courses from the following departments and/or disciplines:
- College of Human Environmental Sciences (providing May Interim instruction)
- College of Education (providing May Interim instruction)
- College of Nursing (providing annual physical examinations)
- School of Social Work (providing support services to students and their families)
- Department of Human Nutrition (providing expertise for parental workshops)
- Advertising and Public Relations Department (providing public relations plans to publicize the program)
- Department of Modern Languages (Spanish Dept. providing in-class support for ESL students)
- Art Department (provide in-class art instruction)
- Music Department (provide in-class music instruction)
- Kinesiology (provide physical fitness instruction)
- Speech and Hearing Center (providing individualized language and speech therapy)
- Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility (providing annual Focus First vision screenings)
- Department of Consumer Sciences (providing expertise for parental workshops)
- Department of Health Science (providing expertise for parental workshops)
4. Non-Course Student Volunteers
Student volunteers from UA will be paired with preschool children for one-to-one support in school readiness skills. On-site training will be provided by Pre-K teachers.
5. Tuscaloosa Jump Start Summer Volunteer
Jump Start Volunteers will serve Pre-K classrooms during the United Way’s Summer Jump Start program which is a five-week, half-day prelude to kindergarten for children who have little or no preschool experience. The Jump Start Summer “Power Aide” program begins with training received during the May interim and ends in mid-July after the five-week Jump Start program. College students of all disciplines are invited to apply for this opportunity.
6. Introduction to Pre-K Training Course
The College of Education will assist the College of Human and Environmental Sciences in the coordination of the Introduction to Pre-K course (SPE 272/HD 282) during the May Interim term. The College of Education will also recruit students to participate in the Tuscaloosa Pre-K program. Work-study interns, “Power Aides,” Jump Start volunteers, and non-course volunteers are encouraged to complete a three-week UA interim course in May. After training, volunteers will be able to work under the direction of the Tuscaloosa City Schools Pre-K Coordinator and lead teachers to enhance daily lessons and classroom needs.