Message from the Executive Director, Debra J. Gass
There is a lot of talk these days about “school readiness”. For many, this is a new discussion; however, at Early Education Services, it has always been the focus and intent of what we do. Early Education Services was an idea borne to a cluster of community members who were concerned that many Brattleboro preschool children were not prepared for kindergarten. Youngsters lacked the necessary foundations for cognitive and academic learning to occur. It was understood then, as it is even more so now, that there are many facets of a child’s development which must be fostered in order for cognitive and academic learning to incubate. And it begins at pregnancy. As a result of this concern, Early Education Services, an arm of the Brattleboro Town School District, was created. Our primary purpose is to provide the services Windham County families need to support their children’s “whole growth” by attending to their nutritional, medical, dental, physical, social and emotional needs, including the prenatal months. It is only when families are stable and these areas are addressed that young children truly can be ready for school. In 1987, EES began as a parent-teacher home visiting program with a focus on literacy for forty-five families, staffed by two. Today, we are a multi-million dollar agency providing a cadre of support services for nearly 300 children and their families each year with a staff of up to 90 employees. In the past year, our work has been heightened and elevated with more specific goals, outcomes and intentional school readiness activities; now measured with scientific sophistication. We are accessing supports from school districts, which enhances our knowledge and builds smoother transitions for children when they move to kindergarten. We look forward to building our capacities, always planning ahead and incorporating new resources, and forming greater partnerships with our local schools. As I look ahead, I envision a three-legged “school readiness stool”: the first leg is the family, the second, Early Education Services and the third, public schools. Together, we grasp the seat; the child. We have the structural foundation for every child to grow when we hold our places at this stool with fortitude and collaborative balance.
Debra J. Gass,