By Jayne Gibson
Executive Director, Austin Aspires
If you were told there was one thing that you could do for your three- or four-year-old child today that would impact him/her through age 40 and beyond, would you do it? The Perry Preschool Study, https://highscope.org/perrypreschoolstudy, is a study that was started in the 1960’s, yet still relevant today.
In this study, from 1962-1967, 123 children ages 3 and 4, each of them born in poverty and at high risk of failing in school, were randomly divided into two groups. Children designated as the “program group” entered high-quality preschool programming. The “comparison group” received no preschool programming. The most recent phase of this study was completed in the early 2000s, when participants were in their 40s.
This final phase interviewed 97 percent of the participants that were still living at age 40. They learned that the adults from the “program group” (those who attended preschool) had higher earnings, committed fewer crimes, were more likely to hold a job, and were more likely to have graduated from high school than their peers from the “comparison group” (those who did not receive preschool programming). Enrolling your child in preschool impacts more than just a couple of years of your child’s life. It has truly long-lasting results.
We are fortunate in our community to have a number of high-quality preschool programs for our children! Your chance to learn more about each of these programs is right around the corner. On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Mower County Preschool Showcase will happen from 10 a.m. to noon at the Austin High School Hastings Gym. This showcase is designed to be a one-stop-shop for all things preschool.
You will learn more about each of the preschools in our community, transportation, extracurricular activities, scholarships and more.
You don’t want to miss this amazing opportunity! There is absolutely no cost to attend and it is open to everyone!
There will be activities for the preschool aged child, as well as information for parents. This event will not include registration for preschool. That will happen at a later date at each individual preschool.
Instead, this is an opportunity for you to find the preschool that best meets the needs of your learner and your family. We hope to see you there!
By Jayne Gibson
Executive Director Austin Aspires
By 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training, according to some reports. Previous graduates of high schools in Austin may have found obtaining postsecondary education or training to be financially challenging or even cost prohibitive. Earlier this year, the Hormel Foundation announced The Austin Assurance Scholarship program, removing financial barriers for many of this spring’s graduates.
This generous donation provides eligible Austin and Pacelli High Schools’ graduates the opportunity to attend any Riverland Community College campus for little to no cost. The Foundation, along with a team of educators representing Austin Public Schools, Pacelli Catholic Schools and Riverland Community College worked diligently to define the scholarship criteria. The criterion was developed in a manner to ensure every student that demonstrates desire and readiness for higher education will have access to this program.
The main qualifiers for this scholarship include: students must successfully graduate from one of the high schools located in Austin, they must live in Austin, and they must complete a number of community volunteer hours. The scholarship can be used at any of the Riverland Community College campuses, including Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna. Local ninth through 12th graders recently learned the details of the program in an assembly held at their school. With the assistance of high school and college staff, 12th graders completed the scholarship application, even if they weren’t sure their path was going to take them to Riverland immediately after graduation. Qualifying students have up to five years to use the scholarship in some circumstances.
This scholarship program is not only great for the scholarly recipients; it is a big win for our community. Recruiting managers and human resource departments can share information about this unique scholarship program when working with candidates outside of our community to fill unfilled job openings. Community employers can work directly with Riverland to train and recruit their future work force needs through this program. Non-profit and service organizations will benefit from providing students an opportunity to grow through volunteerism.
Would you like to learn more about this scholarship? Additional information can be found on the web site at https://austinassurance.org.
Executive Director Austin Aspires
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mathatma Gandhi
Volunteers serve as the backbone of many strong organizations, including Austin Aspires. In 2014, Mr. Craig Johnson was appointed to represent the Hormel Foundation on the initial Austin Aspires Board of Directors. Mr. Johnson has actively served on the board since that time. He played an instrumental role in the development of by-laws, policy and general start up operations. Most importantly though, Mr. Johnson combined his commitment to the community of Austin with his expertise in the area of law to ensure Austin Aspires was well placed to make a difference for the students in our community. Mr. Johnson has an eye for detail and is a strong advocate for improved educational outcomes for all children. Hormel Foundation president, Jeff Ettinger said, “The Hormel Foundation has benefitted from Craig’s representation during these important initial years of the Austin Aspires project.
Mr. Johnson was born in Austin. He attended college and law school at the University of Minnesota. His commitment to service to others is evident throughout his life story, and includes service at city, county and national level. He retired from the US Army Reserve as a Captain. In addition to service on the Austin Aspires Board, he has played key roles in service in the Austin Rotary Club, the St. Olaf Foundation and the United Way of Mower County.
His time with the Austin Aspires Board is coming to a close at the end of September. On behalf of Austin Aspires, we want to publicly acknowledge Mr. Johnson for the incredible work he has done as a board member, even agreeing to serve beyond his initial term to ensure a smooth transition to a new director. We are extremely grateful to Craig for the sharing of his time, his wisdom and his passion for others.
Ms. Shelley King will be elected to replace Mr. Johnson.
Executive Director Austin Aspires
The 2018-2019 school year is here! Transitioning from summer to fall can be challenging for students and families, and it is important to plan for a successful transition in advance.
School attendance is essential to success. Research conducted over several years has concluded students who miss up to two days a month, for any reason, are more likely to fall behind in school, struggle more than peers when learning to read, and may be less likely to graduate on time. The eye-opening part of this research is that it didn’t matter if the absences were excused or unexcused, the potential negative impact to learning existed.
It is important to establish healthy habits right away, regardless if your child is beginning preschool, elementary school, middle school or high school. Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school, and about themselves. Reliable attendance practices become the foundation of success at all levels of education, as well as in employment as an adult.
Attendance Works, a national foundation devoted to researching and addressing attendance practices, has offered suggestions to students and families when it comes to planning for school:
Each child is unique, and there may be times that going to school is not possible. As the caring parent or guardian, you make decisions each and every day in the best interest of your child. If your child seems anxious about going to school, be sure to reach out to your child’s teacher, principal, counselor or other staff member as soon as possible. Together plans can be crafted to ensure your child feels valued at school while learning each and every day. Are you interested in learning more? Many free resources and tips can be found at www.attendanceworks.org.
Please contact Jayne Gibson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 507-437-0920 to learn more or become involved!