AC receives $500,000 to continue leading Panhandle-wide Texas School Ready! project


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo College has been selected to continue leading the Panhandle-wide Texas School Ready! project.

AC received a two-year, $500,000 grant from Texas School Ready! (TSR) to improve the school-readiness of at-risk 3 and 4-year-olds on the High Plains.

This is not the first time AC has received the grant, now they have more resources to help early childcare centers in our area.

For 20 years, AC has used TSR funds to help teachers in qualified childcare settings, Head Start programs, school districts and more to make sure kids are school-ready.

“That allows us to hire coaches that go into early childhood centers and help support early childhood teachers with their curriculum, instruction, and assessment,” said Dennis Sarine, Amarillo College direct of education and child development.

Now through TSR, the college is also providing a remote coach for small, rural areas.

“That coach will be able to provide assistance to a teacher that may not be able to come to town per se and have that face-to-face coaching,” Sarine said. “They’ll be able to do it alternative methods. I would say, Skype format, internet coaching in the classroom.”

Sarine said the program provides teachers with resources they might not have otherwise. The money will give special training for educators for the 2019 and 2020 school years.

A Texas Education Agency report for previous school year shows only 43.5% of kindergarteners in Amarillo ISD were kindergarten-ready.

Sarine said each TSR coach will serve about 20 teachers with hands-on, one-on-one help.

“…it’s correlated with the pre-K guidelines from the State of Texas which aligns with what our school districts are doing now,” Sarine added. “So, a child gains the advantage of being on grade-level when they enter their educational program or their public schooling.”

He said AC knows teacher turnover is high in the early childhood education world so they hope having mentors make connections with educators will help.

Teachers will get feedback about their strengths and improvements they can make to ensure children are school-ready.

AC will implement the grant in partnership with the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, which has managed the statewide TSR initiative since 2003.

Sarine said AC is still in the process of selecting campuses for this program cycle.

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