Jumpstart leaves university with opportunity for a fresh start in area preschools

“Jumpstart’s motto could be seen plastered on stickers, pins, bookbags and papers of its 80 student employees. Working toward the day that every child enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Last year, Jumpstart, a national non-profit under the service branch Americorps matched at-risk preschool children with interested and involved college students in order to improve emerging literacy and social skills.”

Jumpstart’s motto could be seen plastered on stickers, pins, bookbags and papers of its 80 student employees.

Working toward the day that every child enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.

Last year, Jumpstart, a national non-profit under the service branch Americorps matched at-risk preschool children with interested and involved college students in order to improve emerging literacy and social skills.

This partnership helped raise the children’s test scores and provide rare one-on-one attention that is invaluable in early childhood.

Jumpstart’s partnership with the university lasted six years and served six community preschools providing much needed support to classroom teachers and implementing its own curriculum during specified Jumpstart sessions.

Recently, however, the national office reallocated funds and chose to close several of its central region sites and in the process, ended its partnership with the University of Akron.

Because of this decision six area preschools were left without expected student assistants, and as many as 80 university student work-study positions were lost and four GA positions were cut.

Not to mention the preschoolers who lost the opportunity to be a part of a program that offered one-on-one attention and intensive school support.

This program and the relationships that the university made with the surrounding community and preschools do not need to be lost merely because the university is no longer partnered with Jumpstart.

Ohio State University offers a similar, independent program that serves area preschools and implements a comparable curriculum focused on early-childhood development.

A similar program could be implemented by the University of Akron through the College of Education that focuses on strengthening ties with area preschools and providing students with meaningful opportunities to interact with and serve area children.

Though the program could be open to all majors, the opportunity for early- childhood education students to work in a classroom developing and implementing curriculum would be invaluable.

There is no reason with the connections that the university fostered and the resources that it has at its disposal that the area children and preschools should be entirely abandoned in this way.

The program worked well for six years and though it will take reformulating on the part of the university, it is worth the effort. It is a logical step, and one done quite successfully at OSU, to develop an autonomous organization that serves the area as well as the students of the university.

The costs to the university would be minimal and with the six-year relationship with preschools already established and an infrastructure in place it would be an easy transition for the university to make.

The university is no longer partnered with the organization Jumpstart, but that does not mean that as an institution devoted to higher education it should abandon the vision of working toward the day when all children enter school prepared to succeed. Or the day when student teachers enter classrooms with adequate experience.