Amarillo College leads early education program in panhandle - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Amarillo College leads early education program in panhandle

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Amarillo, TX -- The first day of school can be a rocky road for any child, but for those coming from particularly disadvantaged homes, the transition can be much rougher.  And a statewide program that tries to ease that transition is making an impact across Texas and right here in Amarillo.

Texas School Ready is a recurring grant program geared toward three and four year-olds who may need a little help to take their first step into a classroom.  And this time around, Amarillo College was selected as the lead agency for the Panhandle.

Texas School Ready coordinates student services and educator training through school districts and other programs like Head Start, which are aimed at preschool age children from low-income homes.  An estimated 22 percent of children under the age of five in Texas live below the poverty line.

And while a child's socioeconomic background should not be ignored, organizers say the key is education for both children and parents, as Mary Clare Munger, Chair of Amarillo College's Education Department, explains,

"When you get this high-quality intervention; when the families understand what needs to happen for those kids to be school-ready, then you see sometimes kids catch up two years of growth." 

Fourteen percent of Texas students never graduate high school, and Texas School Ready is working to make sure their children don't follow in their footsteps.

"Starting early, getting them on level by kindergarten - that's what we're trying to do, is change that trajectory for the child, change it for the family, and have them on level, because if they can start on level, they can stay on level," says Munger.

According to the Texas Education Agency, the program serves about 42,000 children statewide and about 1,000 in the Panhandle.

If you'd like to learn more about the program itself or Amarillo College's role as lead agency, follow the links attached to this story.

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