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Early Learning Center selected for innovation funding

ELC students in classroom with faculty member Aug. 16, 2018 – The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in collaboration with the Minnesota Centers of Excellence (MNCoE) has selected Edina Public Schools Early Learning Center (ELC) for funding for an innovation program. Implementation of the Pyramid Model, designed to support social emotional competence in infants and young children, will begin this fall.

The Pyramid Model helps early educators build skills for supporting nurturing and responsive caregiving, provide targeted social-emotional skills, and support children with challenging behavior. “We are retraining the staff in how we work with kids and in how we teach kids social and emotional skills,” said Leah Byrd, early childhood program coordinator. “Every single person who works in the ELC will have this training.”

MDE and MNCoE have provided $56,100 in funding specifically for staff training to implement the Pyramid Model over the course of five years. Professional development facilitators will provide skilled trainers, external coaches, and training for internal coaches. Information and support will also be provided so that ELC staff can effectively collect and use Pyramid Model data for ongoing program decision making.

ELC administrators began research around the Pyramid Model in summer 2015. They were in favor of implementing the Pyramid Model because of its history. “The Pyramid Model has been around a long time, it is sustainable and has long lasting effects,” Byrd explained. The application process was thorough and receiving support from staff was key. “It started with an introduction to the Pyramid Model to the whole staff, and staff exercises to elicit feedback. Then we used the hexagon tool as a framework to establish readiness,” said Lisa Hawthorne, early childhood special education coordinator for the ELC.

The application for innovation funding was spurred by the recognition that the ELC needed additional resources to support the implementation of the Pyramid Model. “As part of this district, we have a high standard of quality for our program, and part of having a high quality program is to invest in the skill set of our staff,” Byrd said. “This is our commitment to that.”