This past Monday, I had the pleasure of visiting a National Head Start Center of Excellence in Baltimore – the Campfield Head Start Center – with the Director of Head Start, Administration of Children and Families, Yvette Sanchez Fuentes. Not only did we take a wonderful tour of the center, but I also had the opportunity to read to a classroom of children! It was a real treat for me to spend time with the pre-schoolers. At one point, I even sang along with them to the old favorite, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands,” and it was so inspiring to see the pure innocence and joy in the faces of the students.
It’s on behalf of our youngest learners that the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services are partnering and coordinating our work. It’s also why investments in early learning, such as the Early Learning Challenge Fund, proposed in the President’s FY2012 Budget, are so important. We in the Department are deeply committed to an early learning agenda that supports a continuum of learning beginning at birth and continuing through third grade, and we are honored to work with programs like the Campfield Head Start Center to provide the right start for our children’s education.
Dr. Melendez speaks to a young student at the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center (ECFLC). Read more about Dr. Melendez' visit to the ECFLC in the Times-Picayune.
I went on my first work trip of 2011 to the wonderful city of New Orleans last week. On Friday the 14th, I spent some time at an early learning school: the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center (ECFLC). Not only did I get to do a tour of the school, but I also was able to spend some time with the Louisiana State Literacy Team, as they were doing a visit of the Center and holding their meeting at the school that same day. Walking around the Center and meeting with its staff and students provided all of us visitors an opportunity to think about what a comprehensive literacy plan starting at birth could —and should – look like. I left the school energized and inspired, and I hope the State Literacy Team felt the same way.
I also visited the Warren Easton High School, which has such a great history behind it as the state’s oldest public high school. The school reopened as a charter school after Hurricane Katrina, but still faced tremendous trials and struggles. The staff members, in conjunction with support from the community, are working hard to rebuild and reform the school to ensure that all its students are on track for academic success.