In its July 12 meeting the Prince George County Board of Supervisors adopted the resolution in support of the “Stairways to Success” program in Early Childhood Education. The program was initiated by the Virginia Municipal League and is currently in its first year.
“The program has two parts,” VML Member Mary Jo Fields said. “One is to encourage more local governments to participate in and encourage early childhood initiatives, ranging from ones that are fairly easy to do, to ones that may be more difficult or more expensive. The other is to have a way for localities to have a way to be recognized for what they’re already doing in order to facilitate the sharing of information.”
The program is designed with a point system to be a competition in which children for their successes can earn an award, which is divided into three different categories. A bronze is won for children who earn a minimum of 20 points for participating in one to two activities. A silver is won for children who earn a minimum of 30 points participate in three to four activities and a gold is won for children who earn a minimum of 50 points for participating in five activities or more.
“It’s kind of a friendly competition,” Fields said. “Really the competition is deciding to do it, and then deciding whether you’re going to go for the very basic entry level recognition up to the highest level. So it’s not extremely competitive but it’s a way of competition to help people. It encourages participation in the program because we do want localities to think about what if their neighbor gets this recognition and they don’t. If you get the gold level, that doesn’t mean other localities can’t as well.”
The “Stairways to Success” application can be found and downloaded on the VML website, and it holds a list of activities can participate in. One of the first things on the first list is the display of preschooler’s art in public buildings. Another activity on the list is participating in the “Read Across America” project.
For participating in these activities on the first list, children earn five points for each one. The second list of activities gives children 10 points for each activity they complete, and on the third, which is the longest list, each competed activity is worth 15 points. Parents simply need to check off each completed activity and send it back to earn the rewards.
“I am advocating that we find ways to enhance the early childhood experience to build a strong, resilient community able to successfully meet the demands of the future,” VML President and Mayor of Blacksburg Va. Ron Rordam said in a statement on the Stairway to Success webpage. “Stairway to Success recognizes initiatives, tailored to our communities that will allow our children to have a better chance of entering the school system on an even playing field. It is designed to give all our children the tools to be successful.”
Winners in all categories will be notified by September 15. All winners will be recognized during the awards presentation at the VML Annual Conference on October 11 in Virginia Beach.
“This is the first year we’re doing it,” Fields said. “I hope that a lot of our localities will take the advantage being recognized for initiatives they are already undertaking and being able to learn from their fellow cities and counties and towns across the state.”