Training future teachers from the community to help kids

Early Childhood Partnership in North Omaha

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Loyita Lessley is a mom of three from North Omaha. After years working as a licensed practical nurse and then running her own home-based childcare center, she is now pursuing her true passion – helping young children from her community succeed in school.

Metropolitan Community College is helping Loyita reach her goals. Her first year of clinical education experience happened in the Early Childhood Partnership classrooms at Kellom Elementary School. With a MCC professor in the classroom coaching Loyita and her classmates, Loyita's classroom experience put her on track to be an even better teacher – one who understands the real challenges created by poverty.

Omaha Public Schools offered Loyita a part-time job as a summer paraprofessional after just one semester of practicum experience in the Kellom classrooms. Finally, she saw her dream of being an elementary school teacher coming true.

Vision taking shape

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When Loyita enrolled in the MCC Early Childhood Partnership classes, she didn’t realize the program vision includes attracting young people from the North Omaha community to become teachers. That’s exactly what Loyita sees herself doing.  Eventually, she hopes to be an OPS kindergarten teacher in North Omaha.

The Early Childhood Partnership is one of the first programs in the country to establish clinical education sites, offering in-depth teacher preparation with on-site faculty supervising. Preparing future teachers is part of the partnership's continuous learning circle – joining teachers, families and childcare providers – with everyone working together to identify the best ways to help young children succeed in school.

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Step into the classrooms at Kellom Elementary

For now, Loyita feels privileged to teach a small group of rambunctious 3- and 4-year-olds. She encourages her students to learn through play. “I try to make everything educational,” Loyita explains.

Today, that means she’s the grocery clerk while her students peddle tricycles to their very own “drive through” grocery store. The children love playing pretend, and Loyita gets satisfaction seeing her class practice important math skills, like counting.

“Do you need any more groceries today?” Loyita asks one student, who shakes his head. “Okay, that’ll be $5.” They count together, “One, two, three, four, five!”

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Coaching childcare providers to support early learning is a powerful way to help children, starting when they’re babies.

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Teaching Teams

Teachers, family liaisons and paraprofessionals work together to help kids make daily improvements in learning. MORE

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In clinical teaching sites, college students learn to teach in early childhood classrooms with guidance from experienced faculty.

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