A lot of recognizable, important people swept into 6-year-old Ezekiel Millan’s Kansas City school Thursday with big ideas and dollars to boost early childhood literacy.
His mother, Cheyenne Hoyt, appreciates the help.
She liked what she heard about the Urban Neighborhood Initiative partnership coming to Faxon Elementary School with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the United Way of Greater Kansas City’s Success by 6 resource centers.
“Fun concepts,” she said — and that praise was coming from a parent with plenty of creative ideas of her own, like spreading out a sheet of aluminum foil and coating it with shaving cream, perfect for Ezekiel to use his finger to write out letters and words.
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“Something I learned from my grandmother,” Hoyt said.
Faxon, through a five-year, $250,000 grant from Burns & McDonnell, will be getting the Imagination Library and Success by 6 resources that Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Kansas City Superintendent Steve Green and Burns & McDonnell chairman and CEO Greg Graves all touted as playing a role in the city’s primary economic development plan — reading.
“I want him to succeed,” Hoyt said of her first-grade son. “I want him to do better than I did.”
Some of the things children will receive include personalized books that make the child a character in the story. “A fairy tale they get to keep,” Hoyt said. “It will get them excited and get brought into learning.”
Families in and around Faxon, at 1320 E. 32nd Terrace, also will gain access to new resources at Success by 6, including parent educators, referral services, a toy and resource lending library and other programs.
“These are my parents,” Faxon Principal Kathleen Snipes said. “If we can get them what they need, it’s good for my school. I want a comprehensive school.”
The Urban Neighborhood Initiative is one of the pillars of the Big 5 goals launched by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. The initiative aims to revitalize the central city area between 22nd and 52nd streets and from Troost Avenue to U.S. 71.
This is the second major announcement from the initiative, which last month presented a proposal for a charter public elementary school that would be sponsored by Kansas City Public Schools, inspired by the work of Atlanta’s Purpose Built Communities.
More than two years of preparation have led to this point, said Dianne Cleaver, executive director of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative.
“We’re getting to the point of fruition on things,” she said. “It feels good.”
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