Ross Moody argued forcefully for greater community investment in early education (“Early childhood education programs crucial for future,” The Daily News, June 17). He urged Galveston and Texas to do more to “… ensure high quality and sustainable education for our youngest and most impressionable citizens.”

Ross and his fellow Moody Foundation trustees, Elle Moody and chair Frances Moody-Dahlberg, along with the foundation staff aren’t just “talking the talk” — they’re “walking the walk” — and have been for several years. They clearly understand that one of the most reliable predictors of a student graduating high school in four years is that student reading on grade level in the third-grade.

They clearly understand that one of the most reliable predictors of a student reading on grade level in third-grade is that student entering kindergarten with the social, emotional, academic, cognitive and vocabulary skills necessary for success. In the fall of 2018, only 24 percent of Galveston children knocking on the doors of public school kindergarten classrooms were assessed as “ready to learn.” This community has its work cut out for it.

That work took an enormous step forward in the winter of 2016 when The Moody Foundation made a multi-year grant that provided the underpinning funding to establish Moody Early Childhood Center. The center opened later that same year as a unique partnership between a public school district, Galveston Independent School District, and a private, nonprofit organization founded to address the urgent need for high quality, financially accessible infant and toddler education in Galveston.

The concept was deceptively simple: co-locate a public PreK3 program and a private infant and toddler education program aligning curriculum, classroom culture, family engagement and teacher training. And do it in an under-utilized public elementary school.

With support from other Galveston and Texas philanthropic entities, including the Permanent Endowment Fund at Moody Church, the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, the Ippolito Charitable Foundation, the Leon Bromberg Charitable Trust, the Del Papa Family, Galveston United Way, GISD Educational Foundation, Yaga’s Children’s Fund, First Presbyterian Church’s Outreach Fund, the Dallas-based Meadows Foundation, the Houston-based Albert and Ethel Herzstein and Simmons Foundations and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas/KABOOM, the center grew quickly.

As it grew, community partners joined the work, offering goods and services that provide critical support to the center’s mission of educating our youngest Galvestonians, and empowering, engaging and educating their families. The list is long and growing with the recent addition of a teen health pediatric clinic on the center campus, funded by the Sealy Smith Foundation through the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The range is broad, from family counseling provided by Family Service Center, to diapers and infant sanitary supplies provided by Galveston Diaper Bank, to Ball High School’s Bridging the Educational Science for Teachers of Tomorrow and child guidance students who work on campus during the school year.

School trustees, the superintendent and staff have stood as strong partners from the beginning. Without community commitment, the center would be hard pressed to deliver on its mission: “Giving every Galveston child the opportunity to soar!” As The Moody Foundation’s senior grants officer Allan Matthews says, “Galveston is going all in for its youngest learners.”

Betty Massey chairs the Board of Directors of the Moody Early Childhood Center.

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(1) comment

Ron Woody

Having been involved in my adult children's education from birth I am saddened that private organizations and government entities are utilizing valuable resources on tasks that should be completed by parents. That being the case, having worked with rural, suburban and urban schools from 1990 to 2011 I recognize the "genie can not be put back in the bottle". What the Moody Foundation and others are doing is one of the best uses of resources that an organization could provide a community. Early childhood education is essential to a thriving community and life of individuals. I am thankful that generation long leaders in Galveston recognize the importance and are putting deeds to their words. The remaining pressing question is, as this program is duplicated and PreK education and services are expanded where will the housing that allows the individuals providing these services to be part of the community? As I become a full time resident of Galveston I am impressed by the leadership of elected leaders, non-profit organizations, Vision Galveston, Artist Boat and numerous others as they continue to address the current and future needs of Galveston. Thanks also for the effort of the Galveston Daily News and the reporting they provide in making citizens aware of what is occurring, both negative and positive.

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