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Last summer, I started visiting eastern North Carolina and spending time in kindergarten classes. Today, I am launching Early Bird, EdNC’s early learning newsletter on issues affecting the education and development of our state’s youngest learners — our future. Sign up HERE.

Early Bird

Starting in August of last year, I was welcomed in by teachers and students alike as part of the classroom. During clean-up time in an Edgecombe County classroom on one of my first visits, one student turned and asked me, “You just gonna stand there?”

I met Billie, the classroom bearded dragon, in Dale Murray’s room in Nash County.

I heard from teachers about the importance of having another adult in the classroom and saw that firsthand when a student peed his pants during a lesson and the teacher’s assistant was able to take him out of the classroom, get him changed, and save him the embarrassment of the teacher pausing the entire class.

I heard from Benjamin Eustice, a principal in Halifax County, about the struggles of rural recruitment.

Halifax principal works to shift behavior, community relationships

A bus driver-turned-teacher’s assistant at his school told me when the school couldn’t find a head kindergarten teacher for the first semester, she started taking student data home every night and teaching kids to read on her own.

I heard about the time testing takes and the impact of the state-mandated Kindergarten Entry Assessment.

Are kindergarten entry assessments worth the trouble?

I heard about the process of teaching kids to read — and all the bumps along the way.

Bailey Elementary: Inside the process of teaching kids to read

I heard about the joy of helping students’ learn and watching them grow up, about the importance of high-quality preschool, and the wide variety of developmental, social, and academic readiness.

Research shows that the earliest years of children’s lives profoundly affect the rest. That means every aspect of a young student’s world matters, from the classroom lizard to the state test.

Early Bird is for those who care most about our state’s youngest learners — parents, educators, and policymakers. I want to bring you information that is useful in your lives and in the lives of children. Most of all, I want to keep learning from and telling stories of teachers, students, families, and communities. 

The newsletter will also include contributor pieces, like EdNC’s perspectives, from early childhood educators and parents. If you’re interested in writing about your experience raising, teaching, or advocating for young children, please leave your contact information below.

Do you have ideas about what I should cover in the world of early childhood education and development or topics that you need resources around? Let me know below.

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.