Join us today as we interview Dr. Jeffry Woods, the Indianapolis Regional Director for The Expectations Project. Recently, our Indy TEP team held a clergy roundtable gathering in order to discuss and educate clergy members about the need for early childhood education in the Indianapolis community. Read on to learn more about what’s happening and Indy and how these clergymen plan to combat the issues.
- There are some exciting things happening at the grassroots level in Indy. Tell us about the recent Clergy Roundtable gathering. Who gathered around the table and what was the main objective of the event?
The main objective was to continue to highlight the importance for Indiana to fully fund early education and to discuss the importance of Paths to Quality, which is the measure of quality for Early Learning Centers. Participants included: Mr. Jay Geshay – The Vice President of the United Way, Dr. David Hampton – Senior Pastor of Light of the World Christian Church (who also serves as the Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis), Pastor Richard A. Reynolds – Senior Pastor of New Revelation, and Mr. Earl Martin Phalen – Founder of Summer Advantage and Phalen Leadership Academies in Indianapolis.
- It looks like early childhood education is definitely something the local community is trying to prioritize. What kinds of partnerships do you believe are required in order for tangible gains to happen in Indianapolis?
Local public schools, philanthropic groups, and city and state government officials are making strides to influence needed change. In order to have sustained change, partnerships between these groups must continue to develop to ensure a solid foundation is laid which provides quality early childhood education for all of Indiana’s children. Statistics indicate, investing in early childhood education has a high return on investment, which could help Indianapolis deal with other systemic social challenges such as the school-to-prison pipeline.
- What does innovation mean for a community or for a family in Indy?
It means that a child who would normally be assigned to attend a low performing community school, may have the opportunity to attend an innovation network school that could alter their educational trajectory. By next fall, more than ten percent of Indianapolis public school students will soon attend schools outside of district control.
- We hear about the need to increase actions for quality schools? What’s the most pressing area of need locally from this perspective?
Indianapolis Public Schools has run all of its schools from the downtown central office. They are now transferring control over to private school leaders who will operate these schools independently. There is a pressing need to engage clergy so they fully understand school innovation and what it means for the community. In June, we are kicking off a series of conversations and roundtables to help close this knowledge gap.
- Can you share what the larger hope is for this clergy community? What’s the next chapter in the story?
In speaking with several of our clergy, the larger hope is for all of our babies to receive a high-quality education beginning in pre-K and continuing through K-12. Most clergy understand this need and have made substantial efforts to improve their surrounding communities by providing mentoring and tutoring services for children. Indy TEP will continue to serve the Indianapolis community by helping to influence change by encouraging communities of faith to make quality education the number one priority.
Jeff, thanks for sharing a little bit about the dynamic exchanges happening in Indianapolis. It certainly is inspiring and encouraging to know that groups like this are convening for such a critical topic that’s near and dear to families across the country!