Staff

Screening at Three

Screening at Three 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Way to Grow staff were happy to attend Training of Trainers, a new course developed through a partnership between Generation Next, Minnesota Departments of Education and Health, and several community partners. This training is part of Generation Next’s Kindergarten Readiness Action Plan, which includes an initial strategy of working through community partners in Saint Paul and Minneapolis to ensure every 3 year old completes Early Childhood Screening and gets connected to opportunities to support school readiness.

Early childhood screening is critical to identifying developmental delays, learning disabilities, speech disorders, and many other cognitive and/or physical impairments that may affect a child’s ability to learn.  The earlier we are able to recognize these factors, the earlier we can work with the family in overcoming such hurdles.  We know that families are more likely to get their three year olds screened and follow-through to resources and opportunities if they are supported by the “trusted connectors” in their lives.  This Early Childhood Screening training is designed to give those connectors the information they need to effectively refer families to Early Childhood Screening and support them in follow-through to resources.

We’re pleased to be part of the very first cadre of trainers who will offer the Early Childhood Screening training to all types of connectors!

Preschool Pals Teacher Lights the Way

Preschool Pals Teacher Lights the Way 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Those of us at Way to Grow have always seen Mr. Eka, our Preschool Pals lead teacher, as an excellent educator; but this week, the word is out!  As this week’s recipient of WCCO’s Excellent Educator Award, it is no secret that Mr. Eka radiates a very special light from within, a gift positively impacting his students’ lives day in and day out.  We are honored to have Mr. Eka on our team and could not be more excited to see all of his talents, hard work and dedication being recognized!  Thank you, Eka for all you do to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and life.

Take a step into Eka’s classroom and catch a glimpse of him in action by watching the video below!

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Rising to the Challenge

Rising to the Challenge 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Could you feed four on just $10 and one in store coupon?  Sound like a piece of cake?  How about including at least one item from each of the five food groups with the same amount?

Welcome to the $10 grocery challenge!

Our first group of parents to participate in the challenge successfully accomplished just that last night with the help of Family Educator, Collette.  Collette is one of six Family Educators who will lead at least one grocery tour this month with the goal of increasing access to and awareness of healthy living.  “By starting with parent education, we’ll see a definite trickle-down effect.  Not only can those parents lead and inform others in their own families and in their communities, but their children pick up on those healthy habits as well.  We want our kids to be healthy.  When they don’t have healthy diets, they really aren’t ready for school,” Collette explains.

The grocery tours are not only a part of Way to Grow’s holistic approach, but are completed in conjunction with our six-week Cooking Matters program led in partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension Services and funded by Cargill.  Another Cooking Matters series kicks off tomorrow.  We’re excited to give more parents and families the opportunity to learn to cook healthy meals together, one plate at a time.

Tonia: Taking the Torch

Tonia: Taking the Torch 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Tonia was pregnant with her second child when she was struck with the news that her two-year-old would need extra help if she was to talk before kindergarten.  Tonia’s doctor referred Tonia to Way to Grow.

The Way to Grow Family Educator began to visit Tonia, working to overcome the numerous barriers she was facing as a single mother. Tonia was connected to housing, clothing, food shelves and preschool resources. Once her family’s basic needs were met, Tonia shared one of her greatest goals: to be the first person in her family to graduate from college. At the time, it seemed impossible. However, anyone who meets Tonia can attest to her strong will, sharp wit and determination.  Minneapolis Community and Technical College proved a perfect match.  Tonia thrived and soon her once lofty goals became a reality as she earned her Associate degree. Tonia moved on to find a place to call her own and in rewriting her own story, created a brighter future for her children.

Fifteen years later, Tonia returned to Way to Grow to guide and support families like her own.  “My story is no different from the families we help today. I decided to take the help and support, and turn it into something beneficial for my family. I wanted to change my circumstance, but didn’t know how until a Way to Grow Family Educator showed me.”

Happy Anniversary, Carrie Johnson!

Happy Anniversary, Carrie Johnson! 150 150 Way to Grow

Carrie Zelin Johnson believes strongly in the mission and vision of Way to Grow and for very special reasons. Not only is she a former Family Educator, but she also received direct support as a Way to Grow family earlier in life. In fact, 3 of her children are Way to Grow graduates!

“By the time I was 26 years old I was responsible for 5 children,” said Johnson. “Our blended family presented a significant challenge as we negotiated child rearing beliefs, addressed developmental delays & learning difficulties, and navigated the resources to move out of poverty. We attended events and activities that Way to Grow offered and connected with a Family Educator who knew health and education resources that were just right for our family’s needs.”

Carrie is now the Director of Early Education at Way to Grow, a position she has held since June of last year. In that role, she supports our Family Educators’ home visiting practices and leads Way to Grow’s preschool programs.

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