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Feb. 21, 2011
By Nichole Beckman, media relations assistant
MARYVILLE, Mo. - The Early Care and Education Lab Center at Northwest Missouri State University and the Maryville Public Library are partnering to see that literacy and community education become key components in every Maryville child's education and development.
The partnership, launched in September, will help meet the Maryville library's goal of extending reading opportunities to low-income students and families and assist the Early Care Center in extending educational "family nights" to the Maryville community.
The idea for the partnership began in a Maryville leadership meeting. Stephanie Patterson, director of the Maryville Public Library, said the library wanted to extend its services to toddlers and preschoolers, especially those in low-income situations.
"I had heard about a library in another state that was offering theme-based bags of books to loan to local Head Start programs and other preschool and daycare providers," Patterson said. "I wanted to explore that option here in Maryville."
The library connected with Northwest's Early Care Center, operated by the Department of the Family and Consumer Sciences, after hearing of its interest in a partnership.
"Given that both organizations wanted to do more with early childhood development, it was a great match and a really helpful resource," Patterson said.
As the partnership developed, the Maryville R-II School District's Parents-As-Teachers organization and the Head Start administration started to meet regularly as an "Early Literacy Coalition." The coalition began sharing ideas about how they could work together to support area parents in helping their young children develop early literacy skills.
Courtney Holt, director of the Early Care Center and member of the Literacy Coalition Board, said the school is always looking for new ways to reach out to the Maryville community.
"One of our focuses through this partnership was to build up parent education nights and to make them more educationally based," Holt said. "We want our new Parent Education Series to be beneficial to all Maryville parents, so holding it at the library will be a huge benefit to the public."
The Early Care Center will host its first Parent Education Series from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 31 at the Maryville Library. The informational night will provide information for parents about nutrition and healthy meals, while library volunteers provide kids' activities in the basement community room.
"Our hope, along with the Early Care Center, is that parents from a variety of backgrounds can come and learn something useful while we provide them with a little free childcare," Patterson said.
Currently, the Early Care Center is promoting a children's book drive to provide the library with a small collection of books that can be loaned to Head Start. Delivered in literacy bags, the books will help ensure Head Start teachers have a variety of books to support their lessons. Some of the books may be used for reading-aloud, and others will be available for kids to use in the classroom.
Ultimately, the Maryville Library is hoping to purchase and collect gently used books that kids at Maryville Head Start may keep.
"Having books in the home is one of the factors that contribute to the development of pre-literacy skills," Patterson said. "The Early Care Center has already given us a helping hand and a great start by collecting book donations."
This partnership is also giving one Northwest student an opportunity to gain experience outside the classroom. Pamela Lager, a child and family studies major, is gaining experience through an internship that requires her to work with both the library and childhood center on their projects. Her tasks include helping coordinate the monthly family nights, promoting events such as the book drive and developing themed literacy bags.
"I mainly just wanted to experience the setting and process of putting together events for parents and their children," Lager said. "I am now getting a view of what work goes into putting them together and soon I will see the outcomes."
With their book drive coming to a close and the first family night approaching, the Maryville library and Early Care Center plan to continue the partnership for years to come.
"Early literacy is a continuous effort, so I think what I'm hoping to see come from a coalition is a team effort and ultimately, a community where parents and caregivers have a wealth of resources at their disposal to help them encourage pre-literacy skills with their young ones," Patterson said.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468