GOVERNOR RILEY APPLAUDS JCCEO HEAD START
The JCCEO, Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, Head Start-Early Head Start Program has been named one of ten Head Start Centers of Excellence in Early Childhood in the United States and will receive one million dollars during the next five years to maintain its outstanding programming! Governor Bob Riley officially delivered the impressive news at a JCCEO Headquarters press conference on Thursday, January 6, 2011. JCCEO Board of Directors President Rev. T. L. Lewis and Executive Director Gayle Cunningham received the governor amid thunderous applause.
Governor Riley, the driving force behind the Alabama First-Class Pre-K initiative, one of two top pre-K programs in the nation, expressed his joy over and gratitude for the outstanding achievement of JCCEO Head Start, noting its state and national impact on early childhood education.
The governor also announced JCCEO's development of the Alabama Early Childhood Leadership Academy for early childhood leaders across the state, with the primary goal to learn and share strategies for seeking and achieving excellence with other Alabama early childhood programs, which is a unique activity of the Alabama Center of Excellence in Early Childhood at JCCEO. The next Academy class is scheduled to begin in September 2011. (Creating new and meaningful opportunities for others, this academy will provide sessions on child development and early childhood education, management, and leadership for up to 40 participants in each of five year-long Academy classes to be selected from the leadership of early childhood programs across the state.)
Sharing more good news, Governor Riley announced that JCCEO has also received a 17-month, $225,000 grant to provide training on mentoring and coaching teaching staff for Alabama Head Start staff developers. The Alabama Coaching of Coaches Network at JCCEO, also serving as the first Academy class mentioned above, began with its first session in January.
Echoing the governor's congratulatory comments at the press conference were Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Alabama Department of Children's Affairs Commissioner Dr. Marquita Davis, and Jefferson County Commissioner George Bowman.
The Centers of Excellence program was established in the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007. Funds were appropriated by Congress in 2009. One program from each state was eligible to apply. The JCCEO Head Start-Early Head Start Program was selected by Governor Riley to apply for the Centers of Excellence grant ($1,000,000 grants available for ten successful applicants) through a competitive process implemented at the end of 2009. Nine other Head Start Centers of Excellence are located in Denver, CO; Owensboro, KY; Baltimore, MD; Houghton, MI; Morganton, NC; Albuquerque, NM; Dunkirk, NY; Mount Vernon, OH; and Greensburg, PA.
Governor Riley also recognized the outstanding work of Ms. Cunningham, who in September 2010 was awarded the distinguished Sargent Shriver Award for Excellence by the National Head Start Association (NHSA). The NHSA's pinnacle award "recognizes individuals whose exceptional leadership and demonstrated dedication are consistent with Sargent Shriver's legacy of applying common sense strategies to promote the ideals of social and economic justice."