Stories » EMCSD Earns Golden Bell for TK Kinder Academy

EMCSD Earns Golden Bell for TK Kinder Academy

El Monte City School District (EMCSD) has been awarded a 2023 California School Boards Association (CSBA) Golden Bell for their TK and Kindergarten Readiness Academy in the Early Childhood Education category. This is EMCSD’s second Golden Bell in three years. They earned their first in 2020 for their Music Education program.
A student’s first time attending school can be a daunting experience, especially for younger learners. EMCSD’s Readiness Academy was created to alleviate stress and ease the transition into school. It is a no-cost, hybrid learning experience that fosters student and family engagement and is offered to all incoming TK and Kindergarten students during the summer.
“Participating in any early childhood education experience is important to help students have a strong start in their educational careers. 80% of the brain develops by 3 years old, and 90% by the age of five, so this time in a child's life is important as they are learning very rapidly,” stated Christina Davila, Executive Administrator at the Jeff Seymour Family Center and co-lead of the program. 
The academy utilizes a digital library with over 40,000 e-books in multiple languages and reading levels. Virtual and in-person parent education workshops are offered to families so they can check in with educators, ask questions, and share their experiences. The goal is to foster strong familial bonds through family engagement activities.
Academy parent Lourdes Anastacio says her daughter is really fond of the program and has seen amazing results, especially socially. “I really like the sense of community in this program, and it’s always nice to be present when they’re learning and seeing the progression.” This program has given students confidence in their ability to learn and lead while also empowering the parents to help their children be prepared for school.
EMCSD parents are not the only ones who have seen the program's benefits. Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia was also a participant, “I am proud to share that my own daughter, along with many other children of EMCSD staff members, have participated in the academy. The confidence my daughter gained over the summer as she prepared to start Kindergarten was key to her initial success in school. I want to congratulate the team behind our TK & Kinder Readiness Academy! They are reimagining early childhood education, approaching it holistically, and focusing on the relationship between students, their parents, and the teachers to ensure they all begin the educational journey together.”
Family is the key to the program’s success explains Jessica Pardini, EMCSD’s Educational Technology Coordinator and co-lead of the academy, “Family involvement helps students to feel supported and valued. Knowing that education is important to their parents contributes to a child's thoughts and attitudes about school, and it creates a supportive and encouraging environment at home. Children are more motivated, have better attendance, and achieve at higher levels.”
This CSBA win amplifies the effort EMCSD is dedicating to Early Childhood Education. Currently, the District is a leader in Los Angeles County’s Office of Education’s community school initiative with their highly successful Jeff Seymour Family Center. “This year’s Golden Bell winners have developed remarkable programs that can serve as an example for schools across the state as they work to accelerate learning recovery and foster healthy school environments for all California students,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy.