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Mayor praises Phoenix summer education programs for kids, groups that make it work By Mayor Greg Stanton AFN GUEST WRITER

It’s critical we make sure every young person in our community has the skills and education they need to succeed. That work is especially important during the summer months, when our children aren’t in school and are at risk of falling behind. In July, the City of Phoenix added new partners to promote our local efforts to keep kids engaged and learning during the summer including the White House, the National Summer Learning Association, Clear Channel and iHeartMedia, Inc. At a recent event at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, we unveiled two new Clear Channel billboards and a radio public service announcement by First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage summer learning. These efforts help spread the message about

the importance of keeping our youth engaged all year round. We know that children from lowincome neighborhoods are even more affected by the summer break. On average, they lose two to three months in reading achievement over the summer, while their higher-income peers actually make slight gains. This is a challenge in our community. For 23 percent of Arizona children under age 9, poverty is a barrier to school readiness; for 48 percent, difficulty speaking and understanding English is a primary barrier. We have to work together to make sure our kids are exposed to books, literary resources and hands-on learning opportunities early and often. Nationally, the White House and the National Summer Learning Association launched the Summer Opportunity Project to keep kids learning, safe and healthy. And Phoenix is one of hundreds of communities

supporting the project through our own local initiatives, including Read On Phoenix and Great Start. If students are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade, they are far more likely to continue struggling in the classroom and far less likely to graduate from high school. Read On Phoenix is a public-private partnership that is tackling the literary crisis by bringing resources to our highest-need communities. To make sure our youngest students are school-ready, we launched the Great Start initiative. Great Start gives incoming Phoenix kindergartners – the summer before they start their K-12 careers – free access to community learning centers, such as the Arizona Science Center and the Phoenix Children’s Museum. These places help build a solid foundation of learning – but for many families, would be otherwise costprohibitive.

We started Great Start in 2013 with one school district, Balsz Elementary, and have since grown it to reach nearly 2,000 students and their families. The program now includes Phoenix Head Start and nine Phoenix school districts. Both Read On Phoenix and Great Start can be transformative for students during the summer months. They keep our kids engaged, give them the tools they need to strengthen their reading abilities, and provide one-ofa-kind experiences to make sure they never lose their love of learning. To find out more about our efforts: http://readonarizona.org/read-oncommunities/phoenix; https://www.whitehouse.gov/thepress-office/2016/02/25/fact-sheetwhite-house-announces-new-summeropportunity-project-0

– Greg Stanton is the mayor of Phoenix.

Toddler • Primary • Elementary • Adolescent We looked around every school before our eldest started kindergarten. Once my husband and I visited Keystone Montessori, we stopped looking. We have now been a part of the school for six years. Our children, ages 10, 8 and 2 love the school. The teachers’ commitment to our kids’ development, happiness and success and the freedom to choose and follow their own passion, are some of the many reasons of why we love Keystone. It takes a village to raise a child, and Keystone is the living example of a community working together for the future of each child. - Parent Testimonial

Opening additional toddler classroom in September!

A Foundation for a Lifetime of Learning

www.keystonemontessori.com • (480) 460-7312 1025 E. Liberty Ln. , Phoenix, AZ 85048 (Across the street from the YMCA) Page 32

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2016 | Ahwatukee Foothills News | ahwatukee.com

• (480) 460-7312

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