Sen. Barbara Mikulski (pictured left) greets Charles County Board of Education Chairman Roberta S. Wise (far right), Board member Michael Lukas (second from right), and Board of Education Vice Chairman Maura H. Cook (second from left) during her visit of the Judy Center at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School on Monday, April 4. (Submitted photo)
LA PLATA, Md. (April 5, 2011) U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) toured the Judy Center at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School in Waldorf and hosted a roundtable discussion with staff, parents and community members on Monday as part of a series of statewide school visits. As chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families, Mikulski is visiting counties to learn about integrated services and how the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) impacts school districts.
Barnhart is one of three elementary schools in Charles County with a Judy Center, which provides comprehensive services for Title I school children from birth through kindergarten and their families. Judy Centers also serve students at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd and Eva Turner elementary schools and provide comprehensive services such as health services, career counseling for parents, childcare tuition assistance and tutoring in order to provide children with opportunities to help them succeed.
Washington doesnt have all the answers when it comes to improving our schools. Thats why I came to hear about Judy Centers and what Charles County parents, principals and community members think about elementary education. How can I advocate for something if I dont know how the program works, Mikulski said of her visit to the school. Barnhart Principal Kimberly Hairston and Leigh Stalter, Judy Center Coordinator, guided Mikulski on the tour and visited a kindergarten, prekindergarten and three-year-old program classroom, where Mikulski played a matching game with a group of students.
Following the tour, Mikulski hosted a roundtable discussion with school system leaders, Judy Center staff, Board of Education members and parents and teachers to talk about the success and of Judy Center services and the impact they have on students and the community. As a teacher, I noticed a lot of students were coming into high school unprepared for the world after school. I monitored the achievement gap and looked for ways to provide early learning opportunities to students to better prepare them for school. The focus of the Judy Centers in Charles County is to spread early learning opportunities to students year round, not just during the school year, Superintendent of Schools James E. Richmond said.
The ESEA legislation emphasizes equal access to education and establishes high standards for students, and is up for reauthorization this year. In 2002, Congress reauthorized ESEA as the No Child Left Behind Act with accountability measures for teachers, schools and school districts. This years reauthorization of ESEA focuses on providing schools with the flexibility and resources needed to make improvements to help children succeed.
I think you are on to something here something significant. The Judy Centers truly provide integrated services for schools and their communities. This program is really a preparatory program for school and this has been an inspirational visit, Mikulski said.
Judy Centers were established in 2000 through a $7 million grant as part of Senate bill 793 to provide comprehensive services and early childhood education for students and their families to provide a network of support for success. The centers are named for Judith P. Hoyer, the late wife of Congressman Steny Hoyer and an early childhood education advocate. The first center opened at Dr. Mudd in 2001, and expanded to include Turner in 2002. The Judy Center at Barnhart opened in 2004.
Some of the programs offered to families and students through the Judy Centers include: parent/provider workshops, playgroups for children birth through age three, childcare tuition assistance, computer courses, adult education, dental and medical services, vision and hearing screenings, behavior management, family field trips, parent and children activities and family nights. Charles County Judy Centers work with more than 35 community partners to provide services.
Source: Charles County Public Schools