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Maddie Denton, Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellow: Testimony Before the Indiana Senate Committee on Education and Career Development in Support of the Early Education Grant Pilot Program

January 25, 2017
My name is Maddie Denton. I'm a kindergarten teacher at Greenbriar Elementary School in Washington Township and a Teach Plus Policy Fellow.  I want to urge the Senate Education and Career Development committee to continue Pre-K expansion in Indiana by supporting the early education grant pilot program, otherwise known as SB276.  

The need for the expansion is best exemplified by a story of one of my kindergarten students, Adarion.  Like most students, he came to me on the first day of kindergarten with a lot of energy and excitement for school, but all of that quickly changed.  I’ll never forget the look on Adarion’s face when I handed him a pencil during my introduction to pencils lesson.  He looked at me and then he looked at the pencil as if to say, “What do you want me to do with this?”  He reached down, awkwardly, picked up the pencil, and looked back at me with tears in his eyes.  He simply did not know what to do.  I was shocked and my heart ached for him. 

That year, Adarion and I worked together, teaching and learning from one another. The day he was able to write his name all by himself, he jumped up and shouted, “I did it, Miss Denton!  I did it!”  In that moment I saw his self-esteem explode.  I couldn’t have been more proud of him, not because he was able to write his name, but because of his determination and perseverance.  It was then that I realized all children deserve to feel that sense of pride before ever walking into a kindergarten classroom. The way to do this is through high-quality Pre-K programs for all children.  

Each year, I have children in my classroom who are just like Adarion. They've had little to no Pre-K exposure and are significantly behind.  It can take all year to catch them up and these students either go on to the next grade level significantly behind their peers academically or they are retained. With high-quality Pre-K for all students, this doesn’t have to be the case.  I never want another child to look at me the way Adarion did.  All children deserve to come to school with confidence and the skills needed to succeed.  This happens through providing access to quality Pre-K.  I urge you to continue supporting and expanding Pre-K in Indiana.
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