October 18, 2018

Unique education initiative targets ‘Baby Braves’

(Franklin, GA) — The Heard County School system is launching an innovative new program aimed at reaching the youngest people in the county well before they reach official school age.

Baby Brave Add On

Resources will be provided to all ‘Baby Braves’ in Heard County

The Early Childhood Outreach Initiative (ECHO) less formally known as the ‘Baby Brave’ program is the brainchild of several local leaders and will seek to reach out to not only babies and children ages 0-3 but also to unborn babies still in the womb.

School system leaders hope to become a part of the earliest years in a child’s development in order to help prepare not only future Heard County students but their parents as well.

Current Heard High principal Rodney Kay, who will be transitioning to the Superintendent’s role in 2017, hopes the program will continue to bring the schools and the community closer together.

Each baby or toddler that signs up for the program will receive a ‘Baby Brave’ gift packet which includes a diploma, a Baby Brave t-shirt, books, and a resource directory to aid parents in the early childhood development of their little one.

“We want to continue to help our community. We feel like the school system has made great strides in improving community relationships over the past several years, and we just want to reach out to a group that nobody ever does,” said Kay about the new program.

Toddlers and babies in the program will also be invited to annual events at their respective elementary schools to ‘meet and greet’ and to participate in fun games and activities with future classmates. A Baby Brave facebook page is also planned as a place for parents to ask questions and post stories.

“Kids sometimes come into our system already behind through no fault of their own. In many cases, it’s not the fault of the parents either. If we can provide some education to help bring them in on level then that’s just a great thing for everyone involved. We are already doing amazing things with kids — we just want to keep getting better.”

According to Kay, the program is already receiving a positive response with over 50 children already in the process of signing up after the school reached out to them last week via social media. Sources indicate the county has between 100-125 babies born each calendar year.

School officials hope the new program can have a very positive impact on local kindergarten and elementary students once they reach school age. Families that engage in everyday learning activities with very young children help them develop lifelong motivation, persistence, and a love for learning. The time parents spend with young children can help to provide the foundation for healthy brain development that leads to success in school.

“Right now we spend a lot of time and resources remediating many of our youngest students at our elementary schools. The goal is to have them more prepared before they officially reach our system,” says Kay. “As we have with a lot of things, we are trying to solve many of our problems by working backwards.”

The program is also designed help to identify students with special needs early on in order to provide better resources for them as well. State educators will also be keeping an eye on the new program, possibly the first of its kind in the state.

According to some of the resources provided, children who receive high-quality child care and early learning are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, and succeed in the workforce.

It has been shown that the home environment shapes a child’s view of learning. A parent’s interactions, beliefs, and expectations have a profound early impact on a child’s development.

Although the babies or toddlers will be the official members of the program, the initiative is actually intended as more of an aid for the parents.

Pictured is Londyn Thompson with her mother Emily Thompson. Londyn (born July 6, 2016) was one of the first to sign up last week for the new 'Baby Braves' program.

Pictured is Londyn Thompson with her mother Emily Thompson. Londyn (born July 6, 2016) was one of the first to sign up last week for the new ‘Baby Braves’ program.

One of the inaugural babies to sign up for the program is tiny Miss Londyn Rebecca Thompson.

Londyn was just born on July 6, 2016 and her parents Emily and Eric Thompson are already enthusiastic about the opportunity for their future little Brave.

“We are so excited about the Baby Braves program and being a part of it,” said Emily Thompson after signing Londyn up last week.

“I think it’s such a wonderful idea to get parents involved with the school system this early on. We are looking forward to Londyn officially becoming a part of the Brave Nation.”

The initiative is a collaboration between the Heard County Community Partnership, Kaiser Permanente, the Georgia Family Connection Partnership and Heard County Schools.

Kay along with Mike Roberts are heading the program locally along with Community Partnership director Kathy Knowles and assistance from State Representative Randy Nix. Knowles was instrumental in securing the $20,000 grant for the program.

Officials hope to either be able to visit the new Baby Braves in their homes or to meet with them at one of the education facilities in the county.

Mike Nolley will be handling the in-home visits on behalf of the program.

For more information and to register children for this ground-breaking Baby Braves program, parents may contact Jenny Googe at 706-675-3320 or jennifer.googe@heard.k12.ga.us.

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