Kentucky Super Stars Leadership Academy working to develop skills of early childhood educators across the state

06/21/2017 09:57 PM

A new program helping early childhood educators and administrators learn the skills they need to improve daycares, preschools and kindergartens across the state is halfway through its first year, and an official with the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative says she hopes the state will find the necessary funding to keep it going.

About 250 mentees from throughout the state are enrolled in the Kentucky Super Stars Leadership Academy, a partnership between OVEC and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood funded through a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Four mentors take a group of mentees and work with them on developing different aspects of their approach to early childhood education, meeting at least once a month. The roughly 250 participants are split into two groups of cohorts, each learning from mentors and attending regional forums for six months.

Allyson Berry, director of childcare services at Spencer County Public Schools, said one of the main things she learned through the leadership academy is how to delegate responsibilities at her job. She called her mentor, retired Jefferson County Public Schools principal Sara York, “a backbone” as a supporter.

“I work for a great school system, so they have my back too, but when you do these leadership forums, it is directed for just you,” Berry said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s more catered to you.”

York called Berry “a natural leader” whose confidence has grown through the leadership academy.

“By our conversations and just pushing her a little bit to expand those leadership skills, she is just amazing,” York said.

“She sees herself differently based on some of the exercises and content of the forums. She engages her staff in a different manner because of the content of the forums and some of the activities that we’ve done, and in her words, she’s become a better leader, and I just see it constantly.”

The program’s second group of cohorts is set to begin its six-month stint in the leadership academy, and KSSLA Program Manager Alicia Sells, who also serves as OVEC’s director of innovation, says she hopes the state sees value in the academy and will fund the leadership academy once grant funding runs out.

Sells said she would like to testify before the House and Senate’s education committees on progress she’s seen from participants who have completed KSSLA.

“There’s something for every legislator can learn from their folks, and so one of the things we’ll be doing are some reports that they can see individualized stories of how people felt like they succeeded and improved their practice for kids,” she said.

Watch segments of our interview on KSSLA here:


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