PEAK is a collaboration of Pottstown School District and community organizations that are working together to design and implement strategies that enable children to enter kindergarten ready to learn, and to engage Pottstown’s families. PEAK focuses its work in five inter-related areas: community outreach, family engagement, quality improvement, kindergarten transition, and health/wellness. PEAK’s overarching goal is to build an infrastructure that ensures all children in Pottstown enter kindergarten ready to learn.
In 2006, a collaboration that included Pottstown School District, community childcare, and area funders began discussions related to improving the readiness of children entering kindergarten. Working together during a year-long planning process, the collaboration created the outline for the Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness (PEAK) initiative with the ultimate goal of ensuring that every child in Pottstown has access to early childhood learning opportunities that prepare them to be successful in kindergarten. PEAK was funded through an initial planning grant and expanded through multiple grant sources.
Pottstown School District and the community partners share a common vision of using education as a tool of community revitalization. PEAK is having a positive impact on children, which is sustained as children move into elementary grades, and impacting not only the readiness of children entering kindergarten but also supporting and providing resources to families with young children. PEAK helps increase the instructional skills and credentials of teachers in community-based settings, provides early screenings, health/wellness activities and behavioral support, and smooths the transition to kindergarten for children and families.
Strong community partnerships are essential to the continued success of PEAK and positive change in Pottstown. By working together to build a comprehensive quality early learning system and supporting families, the entire community reaps the benefits of a better educated work force, more successful students, and families who are stable and engaged in the educational process.
PEAK continues to build new partnerships to increase the impact in Pottstown. The Pottstown Trauma Informed Community Connection focuses on understanding the effect of trauma and adverse childhood experiences on children and families. The Bright Start in Pottstown strategy is bringing together community agencies that work with infants and toddlers to increase the outreach and impact for Pottstown’s youngest children. PEAK is also leading the implementation of a comprehensive Social and Emotional Learning program in Pottstown School District for Pre-K through eighth grade. The partnership between PEAK and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation is rethinking how the district engages families and includes a Family Advisory Committee, parent leadership training, community facilitated dialogs, and strategies to reach minority and under-represented populations.
This unique collaboration in Pottstown forms one common vision for early childhood education in the community resulting in higher quality early learning programs, increased resources for families, and improved readiness for school. The PEAK initiative is funded through Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and other donations/grants.