YMCA-ECISD celebrate partnership

Jul. 13—Executives from the Odessa YMCA and top administrators from Ector County ISD turned out Tuesday to celebrate a partnership to provide prekindergarten to 3 year olds in Odessa.

Together, the organizations are committed to preparing 150 prekindergarten 3 year olds for kindergarten. The news conference was held at the Odessa Y Learning Center at 1111 Pagewood Ave.

The spot is the former location of Compass Academy Charter School, which is now located at 5530 Billy Hext Road.

The building site is on a 7.3-acre lot with approximately 21,000 square feet of developed space. The building has 14 classrooms, ample office space and several bonus rooms that could serve various functions, according to information from a news conference.

The information said the facility has an outdoor playground for school age children and the area is highly secured with 24/7 CCTV cameras.

To accommodate parent work schedules, the Odessa Y Learning Center will offer childcare before and after the preschool program hours making preschool education available to more Odessa children, the information said.

Tuesday's gathering included a performance by six children of the Tooty Ta Song.

ECISD Superintendent Scott Muri said the district has a phrase they use commonly which is "we do this work together" because they recognize that it they can't accomplish everything alone.

"It is really the collective power of many that we meet the needs of those around us, and so today we're here to celebrate the collective power of many coming together to create good things for those little kids that were just standing in front of us a moment ago. It starts a couple of years ago when we recognized as a school district that 65 percent of the students (that) enter kindergarten in ECISD aren't ready to be successful on the first day of school," Muri said.

"... We saw that number 65 and we knew that we had to do something about that. And we also knew that we couldn't do it alone. What we did do alone was we took our 4 year old program and moved it from a half-day program to a full-day program; something that we were already doing as a district educating 4 year olds. We knew we could do much better. We could double the time that we were spending with those kids and so we did that," Muri added.

"And then we looked at the next layer, our 3 year olds, and that's something that we didn't have the capacity to do on our own. So we looked into our community and throughout the region in the state. Who can help us educate the children of ECISD from that earliest age, that age of 3, so that when our kids reach kindergarten that not 65 percent of them are not ready but every single child is ready to be successful, and the YMCA stepped up," he said.

Muri said the district and YMCA went through a long application process and the board made a decision to embrace the Y and enter into a formal agreement.

He added that this additional investment in students will last a lifetime and help ensure that "when that race begins, those kids are well prepared to be successful and run across that finish line with great pride."

Odessa Family YMCA CEO/President Crissy Medina said usually when people think of the YMCA, it's the gym, swimming, sports and a song you dance to at a party come to mind.

But Medina said the YMCA is so much more.

"We are a place for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The past few years, we have been committed to early childhood education regarding readiness. Here at the Y, we feel that the sooner a child begins our educational career, the ... more successful they will be in their educational path," Medina said.

"We're very honored to have a partner in ECISD who can continue our focus and help meet the growing needs of the Odessa community. The Y will join schools like Lamar and Carver as the third school in Odessa to serve pre-kindergarten 3 year olds. We are committed to adding 150 spots for 3 year olds to our program. The children will attend half-day morning sessions at this facility. Our Y teachers will be teaching the Frog Street curriculum and conduct assessments to gauge progress for kindergarten readiness. Our teachers will be certified to teach English and Spanish curriculums, as we see that's a very important need in our community," Medina said.

"One of the greatest, most convenient aspects of this partnership is the opportunity for the Odessa Family Y to provide all day care for parents who work, so we will be able to provide before school and after-school transportation to one of our licensed childcare centers," she added.

The Y will be able to provide meals, and if children continue with all-day care, they will also get an afternoon snack.

A ribbon cutting for the Odessa Y Learning Center will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 5, board member and past president Eddy Shelton said.

Lamar and Carver early education centers will host on-site registration July 22 and 23 and parents can register their children for the pre-k 3 program at the YMCA as well. Hours on July 22 will be from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 23.

The district's Registration Roadshow also will be held from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Music City Mall.

Medina said if anyone would like to support efforts for future learning center growth, they can purchase a Lego block in different sizes and put their name, the name of a business or the name of a loved one who supported education on it.

"... When you come in for our grand opening, we can actually build a structure that will be here with the building forever so everyone can see everyone who helps support and make this dream happen ...," Medina said.

For the larger blocks, it's $250 and then Medina said she believes the smaller blocks are $125.

"So if you are interested in purchasing a block and supporting this cause, just call the Odessa Family Y (at) 432-362-4301," Medina said.