The Student Engagement Center sponsored a table at the annual Early Learning Coalition Luncheon in the Reid Ballroom on Tuesday, October 21, affording Whitman School-based interns an accessible opportunity to network and learn from community and state leaders invested in this movement to improve the first five years of every child’s life.
Keynote speaker, Sam Whiting – President and CEO of Thrive by Five of Washington, said that “early learning IS social justice work” and encouraged the audience with updates that Washington has it’s 3rd Governor in a row who understands that early learning investments are necessary to close the opportunity gap for children. Momentum is growing between the public and private sector in collaboration for long-term structural developments in quality childcare and preschool, home visits , and kindergarten readiness. Finally, awareness is growing in Washington state about the importance of early learning. In a recent random poll, 8/10 voters placed early learning second only to job growth and economic stability as priorities for Washington state.
Economists agree that for every dollar invested in early learning, there is at least $7 saved in future costs related to social services, remedial education, public safety and juvenile justice. Representative Maureen Walsh received the Crayon Award from the Children’s Alliance of Seattle for her continued work in bringing her Caucus around to see the importance of dollars used in this manner for the long-term health and well-being of children, families and communities in Washington and around the nation.
As program managers building capacity for Whitman students to take direct action in our schools through reading to children at childcare centers and in K-2 classrooms, offering consistent friendship to K-5 elementary students, supporting guided study at Walla Walla High School, and allowing for teaching experience with bi-lingual students and about civil rights and social justice issues throughout the district, the interns were exposed to the role that partnership and collaboration play in social change. Here are some of their own reflections on what they heard and will take away from this event:
“It is more than an economic matter, and it is more than a matter of improving each individual child’s experience; it is an issue of leveling the playing field and helping to realize every person’s right to education regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, or other group distinction.” – Mackenzie Palmer, Storytime Intern
“The people at the Early Leaning Coalition Lunch ranged from elementary school teachers to members of the local police. Seeing all of these people come together to discuss the importance of early education reinforced keynote speaker, Sam Whiting’s, claim that it takes all of us to work for education reform. Through my involvement with WTTM, I have seen first hand how a collaborative process between individuals and between groups of people can create something infinitely stronger and more sustainable than what one person could do alone.” – Sophie Schouboe, Whitman Teaches the Movement Community Service Intern
Whitman’s School-based Community Service Interns
Storytime Intern – Mackenzie Palmer
Mentor Interns – Leslie Rodriquez and Rina Wulfing
Green Park Bi-Lingual Intern – Elissa Picozzi
College Coaches Intern – Nate Higby
Whitman Teaches the Movement – Sophie Schouboe