Truman Learning Center was officially awarded the prestigious FutureBuilders Early Childhood Education "Program of the Year" by the Missouri School Board Association on Oct. 7.
Principal Kim Johnson and Parents as Teachers Director Kim Weakley accepted the award on behalf of the district during the association’s annual conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort.
"I can't begin to express the excitement I have for the recognition," Johnson said this week after the award ceremony. "This is a proud moment where our Truman team has been recognized for the great things they do daily for our kids. This gives TLC a tremendous amount of encouragement to keep getting better. I am so grateful that we have a school board and community that supports early childhood education."
"What a fabulous experience this process has been," said Weakley. "When you take the acronym T.E.A.M (Together Everyone Achieves More), this is by far one of the best representations of Truman Learning Center, in my opinion.
"The Farmington Parents as Teachers program, which consist of seven of the most dedicated and compassionate women I have had the pleasure to know, has the honor to be part of such an inspiring building and group of people.
"To me, this award is for everyone who walks through those doors...from our administrators, board of education members, educators, secretaries, cafeteria workers, custodians, parents and - most importantly our children."
Johnson spoke on the recognition received after the award was announced in the spring.
“I see what good things our teachers do every day, and the wonderful support we get from the administration, but it is so nice when someone from outside looks in and says, ‘you guys are doing a great job'," she said at the time. "It really brings me a lot of joy.”
FutureBuilders awarded the “Program of the Year” designation to three schools based upon district size - small, medium and large. Truman was selected in the medium district size.
“It is really exciting to be selected,” Johnson said. “In the congratulations letter, it said this year’s competition was difficult because there were numerous excellent nominations.”
Thanks to the persistence of Superintendent Matt Ruble, the center may not have been recognized.
“I got an email from Mr. Ruble saying that the Missouri School Board Association was doing a recognition for an early childhood of the year award,” Johnson said, adding she worked with Parents as Teachers Director Kim Weakley to submit the application.
Johnson said the application process required discussing five different areas and how the school implements those areas. The five include support of child development; innovation; involvement with parents, families and the community; commitment leadership in the field and school readiness.
“When you are busy with the day-to-day activity of the school, you don’t think about what you do,” Johnson said. “But when we wrote it all out, we realized we do a lot of good things.”
Johnson said a great deal of time passed and neither heard about the award after sending in the application.
“I sent the application off to the Missouri School Board Association and I didn’t hear anything. I even asked Kim if she had heard anything,” Johnson said. “Finally, we were having Fun Day, and Matt Ruble came over saying he had to talk to me."
Johnson said she thought the superintendent would not be delivering bad news on "Fun Day" at the school.
"He just couldn’t," she said. "And then he told me that we had been selected as the program of the year.”
Johnson believes Truman was presented the award because of the staff's commitment not only to the child but to the family as well.
“When you think of early childhood, most people think of preschool,” Johnson said. “But it is so much larger. Kim starts meeting with parents during pregnancy. So, she sees the parents and the child during those critical developmental times – infant and toddler. Then they come to us at Pre-K and then through kindergarten. When they are ready to go to first grade, we have had some of these kids with us for six years, which is during those critical years of child development.”
One of the things Johnson believes led the school to be awarded the recognition is the summer school program. According to the principal, the school has incoming kindergartners at summer school to teach school readiness.
“We have all of our preschool kids, along with kids from St. Paul and St. Joe - even if they are going back to those two schools - come to summer school,” Johnson said. “Some of these kids have been to preschool, but some haven’t been anywhere before. It’s a really good opportunity for them to come in and learn the structure of the classroom.”
In addition to summer school, and working with the families, Johnson said the support of the community was key to winning the award.
“The bond issue and adding on to the learning center has made a big difference,” Johnson said. “I love working with Kim and getting to know the families. It is just a really good set-up we have in Farmington.”
For more information on the Parents as Teachers Program, contact Weakley or Johnson at 701-1370.