United Way distributes preschool funding

Apr 17, 2019

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

The United Way of Miami County was able to present Elmwood Preschool and Miami County Head Start with $4,000 each at the Peru Community Schools board meeting Monday evening.

Executive Director of United Way of Miami County Debi Wallick said the United Way was awarded a $40,000 matching one to one grant through the Indiana State Association in 2018 and raised matching funds through their campaign.

While a lot of United Ways take two years to match their grant, Wallick said Miami County was able to do that within the first year. When deciding how to break down the $40,000 they received, Wallick said they wanted to set aside $25,000 to go toward early education development, since one of their goals is to make sure that children are successful going into kindergarten.

From there, Wallick said they decided to partner with Paths to Quality through Bonavista, which has curriculum based opportunities for daycares, ministries and preschools to ensure students are on track before they go to kindergarten, to help provide additional curriculum or professional development on a local level.

Kristi Eddy, principal at Elmwood, said she feels like the school is being well taken care of by the community, especially by Wallick.

“She really is looking out for the kids and anybody that can use the help,” Eddy said.

Eddy said she has spoken with the two preschool teachers about what to put the money toward and they are looking to enhance the curriculum they already use by supplementing materials and filling the classroom with more items like toys. She said some of the money will also be spent on training the teachers, in the pursuit of professional development.

“Now that I’ve been a part of administration you realize what a hundred or a couple hundred dollars can do for a classroom,” Eddy said. “So to think we get $4,000 that the two ladies can share, it’s going to be a big impact.”

Superintendent Sam Watkins said the goal is to get every Elmwood student a preschool education and the schools are getting close.

Julie Worland director of Head Start for the Kokomo School Corporation which is operated out of Elmwood, said they have 57 students this year and Eddy said they have around 70 students in the preschool and special education preschool classrooms.

Eddy said they do hope to grow their numbers.

“That’s the kind of word we want to get out, we’ve got room for kids, we’re looking to grow all the time,” Eddy said. “Quality preschool in the area is something that’s very important so we’re always looking to expand.”

Wallick said they plan to visit New Beginnings Childcare and Maconaquah’s preschool soon to continue distributing the $25,000. She said they’ll be announcing several other locations throughout the next few weeks.