P16 celebrates graduates, success stories

P1000947A 5-year-old girl, whose mother is an accomplished teacher, basically failed her first formal tests.

“It was surprising,” said her mom Mel Hensman.

A school year later, enrolled in the P16 Project in Caldwell, and little Taylergrace is sailing to high marks.

“She’s proof that it works,” said Hensman. “It’s such a wonderful program.”

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Taylergrace Hensman graduated from the P16 Project in Caldwell.

Taylergrace learned leadership skills and confidence and became a better student while participating in the P16 Project, a community-funded supplemental education program being piloted in the Caldwell School District.

P16 just finished its second year, so little data is available for analysis and comparison.

But anecdotally, parents and teachers rave about what they’ve witnessed. Taylergrace was one of about 80 preschool and kindergarten kids who graduated on Thursday in a formal ceremony in the Caldwell High Auditorium, which was nearly full of parents, patrons and teachers. Also attending was Caldwell mayor Garret Nancolas, superintendent Tim Rosendick, Nora Carpenter, CEO of the United Way of Treasure Valley, and Jim Everett, CEO of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA.

“My daughter was in school all day and it really helped her get through her shyness,’’ Hensman said. “I believe in what this can do.”

Idaho does not fund pre-school and only pays for half-day kindergarten, which is voluntary. Idaho children are not required to attend school until age 7.

P1000955P16 provides pre-school for children ages 4-6 in Caldwell. There is a fee, but financial assistance is available so no child is turned away because of inability to pay.

But the program is much more than just pre-school. It’s a three-pronged approached to getting kids prepared for post-secondary pursuits.

The three components of P16

  • Preschool Program:  It serves 80 children in four preschool classes at Lincoln and Wilson elementary schools.
  • Out of School Learning Program:  This program fosters improved health and well-being and academic tutoring. It helps students develop a vision for their future. It is available after school and during breaks, service days and over the summer at Washington and Lewis and Clark elementary schools. Additionally, specialized coordinators provide support during the school day.
  • Career Aspirations Program:  A CAP liaisonis at each of the 11 district schools and leads post-secondary education discussions and related activities — including higher education campus field trips, information events for parents and one-on-one career planning.

“We think what’s really cool about these projects, besides how collaborative they are, is that the overarching goals are post high school education and meaningful careers,” said Jake Alger, communications manager for the United Way of the Treasure Valley. “Early education is a key part of these projects, but so are all the other touch points along the education continuum.”

Beginning in third grade, students at P16-affiliated schools are taken on college campus tours. High school students also are exposed to college opportunities. After the first year of P16, Caldwell High graduating seniors who enrolled in college increased from 39 percent to 48 percent.

“Obviously, that’s a fantastic increase,” Alger said. “Expect to see even bigger strides in the coming years as children currently enrolled in P16 blossom.”

Groups supporting P16

  • Program operator — The Treasure Valley Family YMCA
  • Fiscal agent — United Way of Treasure Valley
  • In-kind supporters — Caldwell School District, Caldwell Transportation and Big Brothers Big Sisters