Toyota, federal grant pay to expand kindergarten prep program to 63 schools

United Way Born Learning Academies expand across Kentucky

Toyota and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood funded the program.
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Toyota and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood funded the program.

To help more Kentucky parents prepare their children for kindergarten, a program is being expanded to 63 more schools.

The expansion means 161 schools this fall will have United Way Born Learning academies, a program that teaches parents ways to use daily moments, like car rides or a trips to the grocery store, to teach small children. The program is sponsored by Toyota, United Way and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood.

“As parents and caregivers, we all want what is best for our students and what Born Learning teaches us is that we don’t have to wait for special events to happen; we don’t have to limit learning opportunities to the classroom,” Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky President Wil James said during a special event in Georgetown Monday. “Instead, we can transform everyday moments into being educational opportunities.”

James said he hopes the program can eventually be extended into all Kentucky counties.Currently preschools, centers and public schools in almost two-thirds of Kentucky’s 120 counties have the program.

In 2012, Toyota gave a $1 million grant to start the program. Two years later, the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood provided $1.2 million from a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge federal grant.

Schools can apply to have an academy, United Way Kentucky President Kevin Middleton said. Usually beginning in September, children — infants to 5 years old — and their parents participate in six workshops over the course of six months. The programs begin around 5:30 p.m. and start with family dinners. Parents and children break off into groups. Children participate in a fun, educational activity while parents learn ways to educate their children daily.

“What we have really seen is that parents and their children are participating and are happy to participate,” Middleton said. “What we have seen are parents are taking this information home and they are providing it for their kids. They are actually seeing now, as we’re in the fifth year of this, children who are starting kindergarten are starting ready to learn.”

Academy Coordinator Tonya Cutright participated in the program at Arlington Elementary in Lexington when her three daughters were preparing for kindergarten. After participating in the program, Cutright said a trip to the grocery store with her three daughters turned into an educational moment about nutrition and colors.

“These parents that come to these types of programs, are more apt to volunteer in your school,” Cutright said. “They are going to be more involved in the school. They are going to come for all family nights, all the open houses, and the novel things like that. They’re going to be there and that just tells the child that, ‘We don’t just care about this part of your education. We care about everything.’”

McKenna Horsley: 859-231-3197, @mckennahorsley

New Born Learning academies

The following 63 schools will have the program this fall.

Toyota-funded programs

  • Adair County Primary Center, Adair County
  • Summit Elementary, Boyd County
  • Jennie Rogers Elementary, Boyle County
  • Brooks Elementary, Bullitt County
  • Clinton County Early Childhood Center, Clinton County
  • Rosenwald Center for Families and Children; Second Street and Elkhorn elementaries, Franklin County
  • Dry Ridge Elementary, Grant County
  • Harlan Independent Elementary, Harlan County
  • London Elementary, Laurel County
  • Whitley Elementary and Pine Knot Primary, McCreary County
  • Morganfield Elementary, Union County
  • Warren Elementary, Warren County
  • Erlanger Early Learning Center and James E. Biggs Preschool, Kenton County

State grant-funded programs

  • Bourbon County Central Elementary, Bourbon County
  • Morgantown Elementary, Butler County
  • Liberty Elementary, Casey County
  • Pembroke Elementary, Christian County
  • Deer Park Elementary, Daviess County
  • Lansdowne Elementary, Fayette County
  • E.P. Ward Elementary, Fleming County
  • Prestonburg and W.D. Osborne elementaries, Floyd County
  • Bridgeport and Collins Lane elementaries, Franklin County
  • Farmington Elementary, Graves County
  • Clarkson Elementary, Grayson County
  • Argillite and Greysbranch elementaries, Greenup County
  • Helmwood Elementary, Hardin County
  • Bonnieville Elementary, Hart County
  • Stinnett Elementary, Leslie County
  • Hustonville, McKinney and Waynesburg elementaries, Lincoln County
  • Adairville School, Logan County
  • Madison Kindergarten Academy and Waco Elementary, Madison County
  • Glasscock Elementary, Marion County
  • Morgan Elementary, McCracken County
  • Calhoun Elementary, McLean County
  • David T. Wilson Elementary and Flaherty Primary, Meade County
  • Botts and Menifee County elementaries, Menifee County
  • Mt. Sterling Elementary, Montgomery County
  • East Valley Elementary, Morgan County
  • Nicholas Co. Elementary, Nicholas County
  • Buckhorn School; A.B. Combs, Leatherwood, R.W. Combs, Robinson elementaries; Perry County
  • Russell Springs and Salem elementaries, Russell County
  • Russell Primary School, Russell Independent Schools
  • Painted Stone Elementary, Shelby County
  • Franklin Elementary, Simpson County
  • Taylor County Elementary, Taylor County
  • Lost River, T.C. Cherry, and Parker-Bennett-Curry elementaries, Warren County
  • Clay and Sebree elementaries, Webster County