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Amarillo College to lead Panhandle-wide Texas School Ready project


By Joe Wyatt

AC has received a two-year, $500,000 grant from TSR! to provide specialized training and resources to qualified Panhandle-area early child educators throughout the 2019 and 2020 school years.

The research-based TSR! project is a statewide effort to improve the school readiness of at-risk 3- and 4-year-old children. This is accomplished through high-quality professional development for teachers, and by providing materials and resources which support cognitive instruction in the classroom.

AC has been the Panhandle’s lead agent for the past 20 years, serving teachers in childcare settings, Head Start programs, school districts and more.

However, this latest TSR! grant authorizes the addition of a “remote coach” – someone whose main focus will be connecting with rurally located childcare providers primarily through digital delivery and other electronic means.

“We are blessed to again be entrusted by TSR! to coach and support early childhood educators throughout the region, and the addition of a remote coach is a definite plus,” said Dennis Sarine, Education Department chair at AC.

“Our goal is to help early childhood educators develop and implement appropriate teaching strategies, utilize progress-monitoring results to inform instruction, and create a cognitively rich environment.”

The College will implement the grant in partnership with with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, which has managed the statewide TSR! initiative since 2003.

AC employs three full-time faculty who administer the TSR! project, which is overseen by Whitney Nestlehut, AC’s child development project coordinator.

Throughout the school year, Nestlehut’s team will mentor early childhood teachers and provide them with tools to help them learn more about the specific instructional needs of the children in their classrooms and how to support them using targeted, engaging lessons and activities.

These services and materials have been proven to have a positive impact on the instructional practices of early childhood teachers and the school readiness of the children in their classrooms.

AC’s expertise in early childhood development is evidenced by the fact that its own Child Development Lab School, located on the West Campus, is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The Lab School is one of only four programs in the top 26 counties of the Panhandle accredited by NAEYC, which is widely acknowledged as the foremost authority in the world on quality programs for young children.

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