CCSD hosts community symposium aimed at getting Charleston children ‘kindergarten-ready’ | SC Education Lab

Charleston County School District officials and community stakeholders will convene Nov. 30 to discuss early childhood education.

The district will host its Early Learning Kindergarten Readiness Symposium starting at 8:30 am at the Gaillard Center. The event is aimed at expanding connections throughout the county, focused on getting Charleston children ready for school.

District staff will collaborate with local childcare providers and other community partners on how to define “kindergarten-readiness,” according to a district statement.

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It’s an essential part of Superintendent Don Kennedy’s goal to get all children on reading level by fifth grade, said Kimberly Foxworth, the district’s executive director of Early Childhood Readiness Programs.

“Our board goal around making sure kids are ready for fifth grade has to start in early childhood,” she said. “They’re not going to be magically ready if we don’t do the foundation.”

Foxworth said Kennedy has been hyper focused on early learning and making sure the district reaches all children.

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“One of the things Mr. Kennedy and I have talked about is making sure that no matter where you come from, you come ready,” Foxworth said. “The only way we can do that is really talk to the providers who are serving these kids to make sure they’re ready.”

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However, Foxworth stressed the district can’t do it alone. That’s why they are involving community partners to engage in the work.

More than 100 people have registered for the event, which is not open to the public. Attendees include representatives from local childcare providers, engaged community members, philanthropists, community organizations that support early learning, colleges and district leaders.

“We have tried to make it not just us, and that’s been really important to me,” she said. “I don’t want it to be a CCSD show. It really is a community event.”

While most attendees and presenters are local or South Carolina-based, some are coming from miles away — such as keynote speaker Jill Dent, director of the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Early Childhood.

Foxworth said under Dent, Mississippi has made strides in early childhood learning.

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“She’s going to talk to us about how they have pulled all the agencies together — Headstart, childcare providers, pre-K — to really work together to improve kindergarten readiness,” Foxworth said.

Attendees can expect a welcome from Kennedy, as well as various breakout sessions and panels centered around early childhood education and readiness.

Foxworth said she hopes attendees leave feeling more connected to other stakeholders invested in this work, creating a collaborative network focused on the same goal: improving kindergarten-readiness in Charleston.

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reach Devna Bose at 843-830-4027. Follow her on Twitter @devnabose.