Grants awarded to SC school districts focused on improving four-year-old kindergarten quality

Awardees include the school districts of Cherokee, Chesterfield, Clarendon 2, Florence 1, Florence 2, Jasper, Lexington 3 and Spartanburg 7. While the awarded projects’ strategies and approaches vary, all focus on enhancing children’s learning and the quality of the interactions between teachers and their students. Young children's relationships with teachers predict future emotional, social and academic success. In studies of teacher-child relationships, children who had a secure relationship with their preschool and kindergarten teachers demonstrated good peer interactions and positive relationships with teachers and peers in elementary school.

Chesterfield County School District is seeking to provide additional opportunities for at-risk four-year-olds by providing an additional 4K classroom each at Cheraw and Petersburg Primary Schools. Leaders intend to foster language and literacy experiences through read-alouds, provide take-home books for 4K students at the two primary schools, and partner with Head Start to provide take-home books for Head Start families and professional development for Head Start staff. The school district was awarded $250,000.

“The Education Block Grant program is an innovative approach to incentivize and implement early childhood strategies that can enhance the quality of 4K programs and instruction,” said Hayes Mizell, chair of the grants committee that decided final grant awards. “Ultimately, we hope to pilot ideas that can improve school readiness outcomes for our young children who can benefit the most from a high-quality 4K education.”

Per Proviso 1.78, the Executive Director of the Education Oversight Committee is charged with reviewing and reporting on the results of the funded programs. Upon the completion of an evaluation, the Education Oversight Committee will disseminate a report with project outcomes, lessons learned and best practices in 2017.