BEREA – In September, Berea Elementary School announced it was one of the 10 statewide recipients of funding from a $115,000 early childhood education grant by Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky.
The grant will establish Toyota “bornlearning” academies in 10 locations across the state, with an additional 20 scheduled to open during the next five years, according to Toyota representative Helen Carroll.
Berea will receive $11,500, the bulk of which will fund workshops to help parents and caretakers “turn everyday activities into learning activities,” said Superintendent Mike Hogg.
The workshops begin Nov. 19 and will continue once a month through May.
The classes are limited to 25 families, so those interested need to contact the Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) at 986-1021 by Nov. 18 to reserve a spot, said Diane Smith, Berea’s FRYSC director. Smith also wrote the grant proposal.
Eastern Kentucky University health professor, Barb Mills, will be the Toyota bornlearning workshop facilitator.
“None of us get a parenting handbook,” Hogg said. “As the parent of a 15-year-old and nearly 18-year-old, I’m still waiting to get my handbook in the mail.”
But, he said, the bornlearning academy is intended to help parents/caregivers of newborns to five-year-olds find learning opportunities with their children and to ask questions that “encourage divergent thinking.”
Families will meet in the front entrance of Berea Community School. Each class will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will wrap up around 7 p.m. Dinner will be served to families from 5:30 to 6 p.m., Smith said.
The parents and children will break away into separate groups for around 30 minutes. During that time, Mills will conduct a workshop with parents to introduce new learning activities. Meanwhile, the children will receive age-appropriate child care until the two groups reconvene for the last 30 minutes to practice the activities learned during the workshop, Smith said.
There also will be incentives and giveaways, such as books for each family, movie passes and tickets to the planetarium, she said.
“We want to be able to say, if you have a diploma from Berea Community High School, you are college ready or career ready,” Hogg said. “But that process starts at zero. It's not just what happens in our high school, middle school and elementary school, but the aggregate of all learning experiences put together.”
And although the money was given to Berea Elementary, the workshops will be open to any community member of every economic background whether they are inside or outside of the school district, he said.
Carroll presented the $11,500 check to Hogg and Doug Eberhart, president of the United Way of Kentucky, during a news conference Wednesday morning at the school.
The bornlearning concept was created by United Way Worldwide and launched as a pilot project in northern Kentucky in 2010, according to a Toyota press release.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.