Fifteen Canfield preschoolers are getting a kick-start for kindergarten this summer through the United Way’s Success By 6 program.
Like scores of other preschoolers in 42 Success By 6 units in 18 school districts in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, the Canfield children are getting to know some of their classmates and teachers they will see when the regular school year begins this fall.
Participation in Success By 6, traditionally four weeks for four hours a day, four days a week, is designed to improve language, social/emotional development, cognitive thinking, physical skills and overall knowledge, said Kathy Mock, director of education and initiatives for the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. Canfield’s program is for three weeks, five days a week for four hours.
Success By 6 is meant not only to build academic skills and social skills, but also to take some of the mystery and fear out of going to school for the first time for children and parents, said Robert Hannon, the area United Way’s chief executive officer.
In Canfield, the Success By 6 teachers — Meaghan Manning and Cara Diana — as in most of the units, are the same teachers the students will see when they go to school this fall.
Manning, the kindergarten teacher at Hilltop Elementary School where the Success By 6 program is conducted, and Diana, kindergarten teacher at C. H. Campbell Elementary School, are new to Canfield schools this year.
Manning, a 2006 graduate of Ursuline High School and a 2010 graduate of Walsh University, is licensed in special education and general education. She taught in East Liverpool schools for four years.
Diana, a 2008 graduate of Canfield High School and a 2013 graduate of Youngstown State University, was a long-term substitute for Liberty schools during the 2013-14 school year. Her license is for preschool through fifth grade.
“The Success By 6 program will definitely help. We are working on the same skills we will work on when regular school begins,” Diana said.
“It is really beneficial for kids to be with and get to know each other and their teachers,” Manning said.
Joe Maroni, principal at Hilltop Elementary, is also a fan of Success By 6, which has been in Canfield schools for four years.
He said he has noticed that students who attended Success by 6 are more prepared for kindergarten.
“It gives them a better chance on day one,” said Maroni.
Also, he said it gets students used to the routine, particularly important now that the district is going to a full day of kindergarten.
United Way started its Success By 6 program in 2009 with pilot units in South Range Local Schools in North Lima and Campbell City Schools. Since then, more than 2,000 students have gone through the program, Mock said.
Students are tested at the beginning and the end of the program in reading, writing and arithmetic.
“They have shown steady growth — an 8 point improvement on average,” Hannon said.
“We strongly believe that programs designed to educate our children will directly contribute to the revitalization of the greater Youngstown region. We expect ... that this program will help students develop the social and learning skills they will need to remain successful throughout their schooling years. Research has shown that children who receive the help they need at an early age are likely to do better in their first years of school and beyond,” Hannon said.
The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley wants to fund education and find out where it fits age-wise to get children ready for and be successful in school, he said.
“In Success By 6, we feel we have a winner ... and we continue to work to improve it by talking to teachers and parents,” Hannon said.