A Year in Review: Walking, Circle Time, and All Ready for Kindergarten

There is one little in our birth-to-3 program that I have been joking with the teachers about for several months now. It may have been because he was wearing Buffalo Bills footie pajamas one morning (don't shoot the messenger—I am from Buffalo!). Or maybe it was because he has the biggest smile. Either way, each day as I would pop in and say "just wait until he can walk, he's going to be trouble!"

At first, it seemed impossible. At the time, our friend couldn't even roll over let alone sit up. But slowly he started to scoot, then crawl, and now—nearly a year in—he is running all around the school.

Much like our now walking friend, it’s hard to believe that I have been at SSEL for almost a year already! As I look back over what we’ve accomplished, I am proud of our SSEL staff and excited by what's yet to come due to the partnerships and opportunities we are creating.

Since August of 2018, we’ve done quite a bit—and hopefully you have been following along—but I wanted to give you a brief “year in review” to celebrate all we have accomplished. The first thing I realized when joining the team was how amazing our staff is. In thinking through my “firsts” as CEO, I knew I wanted to celebrate all they had accomplished and show them how appreciative I was for their service. We invested in wages, launched the Early Education Workforce Development Initiative, and had the opportunity recognize extraordinary efforts, such as when we named our Hughes Service Award after Assistant Director of Programs Victoria Hughes, and have Mrs. Thia Thissen be named a Walter & Marian English Award recipient by the Columbus Foundation.

We hosted a few community events, where I’ve met a lot of you. These included: COSI’s inaugural Science Fest, our recent Circle Time community discussion on reading and literacy, which was a lot of fun and gave me a chance to introduce to all of you my dear friend, Keisha Siriboe, and new friends, Jill Williams and Franki Sibberson.

We introduced our littles to therapy dogs - Ivy for snuggling and Books with Bailey and…let me tell you…there is a mutual love fest going on between our four legged friends and our littles while helping with early literacy.

We also began hosting our Bottles for Bottles Happy Hour events, the next of which is August 1st at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing.

We completed SSEL’s rebranding with a name change, new logo, and new website that reflect the innovative, bold approaches we’re taking. Which leads me to our game changers – our new strategic plan and NUDL, our social enterprises that are expanding our ability to offer guidance to peer organizations, hope to early education professionals, and more opportunities for our families and community, which WILL change the face of early childhood education as we currently know it.

Most importantly, we did something amazing. Something 6 years ahead of schedule. We reached 100% kindergarten readiness for our 31 graduates this past year.

For those who prefer our year in review by the numbers…if you’d like to see what we’ve accomplished during the 2018/2019 school year, I’ve got that right here and it should satisfy your craving for pie...charts that is!

I want to end by saying that I am beyond grateful for this past year’s outpouring of support from all of you. Your warm embrace empowers me as I know that we’re on the right path. However I cannot end this without making an ask. Help me celebrate my first year as South Side Early Learning’s CEO by donating $12 (a dollar for each month I’ve been working alongside all of you). Our work couldn’t be done without you though, so, Thank You!

For the good of South Side,

Colin