Toyota to expand early childhood education centers

FRANKFORT — Toyota announced Monday that it was expanding its early childhood learning academies for parents and caregivers to 12 additional schools and will increase its corporate sponsorship to $1 million.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky in Georgetown and Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America in Erlanger announced last year that they would donate more than $500,000 to help the United Way of Kentucky and an assortment of other organizations start 10 Toyota bornlearning Academies this past school year.

The academies are workshops that give parents and caregivers key information about early childhood education — from incorporating learning into everyday activities to nutrition and emotional development of toddlers. The academies have been so successful that Toyota has decided to increase its sponsorship to nearly $1 million by 2016, Toyota officials said Monday.

Gov. Steve Beshear said at a news conference at the state Capitol that the bornlearning academies are crucial in bridging a gap in early childhood education in Kentucky. Preliminary test scores released earlier this year show that only 19 percent of kids entering kindergarten in Kentucky are prepared for school. The bornlearning academies will help parents ensure that their kids have the skills to succeed before they enroll in kindergarten, Beshear said.

Three schools in Central Kentucky were selected to be among the 12 new bornlearning academies. The schools were Clark County Preschool in Winchester, Paris Elementary School in Paris and Garth Elementary School in Georgetown. The academies will begin in the 2013-14 school year. The 10 schools that had the inaugural bornlearning academies in 2012 will continue to offer the academies in the next school year, Toyota officials said.

Leea Martin Slinker of Hiseville attended Hiseville Elementary's academy last year. Slinker has two children younger than 5.

"For me, this program has been about creating teaching moments in daily life. It's understanding opportunities with what a kid is already doing, like talking about patterns by having my daughter choose striped pants or polka-dot pants," Slinker said. "It's creating moments out of what's already there. You don't have to buy anything, you don't have to stop and think about it, but it's about not letting these opportunities pass you by."

The goal is to have 62 bornlearning academies in Kentucky by 2016, Toyota officials said Monday.


Toyota bornlearning Academy sites

New locations: Lacy Elementary, Hopkinsville; Foust Elementary, Owensboro; Clark County Preschool, Winchester; Paris Elementary, Paris; Garth Elementary, Georgetown; Wingo Elementary, Graves County; South Heights Elementary, Henderson; J.A. Caywood Elementary, Edgewood; Campbell Elementary, Raceland; Murray Elementary, Murray; Highland Elementary, Waynesburg; Trigg County Primary, Cadiz.

Existing locations: Hiseville Elementary, Glasgow; Crabbe Elementary, Ashland; Burgin Elementary, Burgin; May Valley Elementary, Prestonsburg; Grandview Elementary, Bellevue; East Calloway Elementary, Murray; H.W. Wilkey Elementary, Leitchfield; Berea Elementary, Berea; Farley Elementary, Paducah; Boston Elementary, Boston.