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Enrollment Now Open for Pathway to One

This summer, Pathway to One will be held virtually. Enrollment is now open. Letters are going out to the families of all students who - based on an assessment given to kindergarten students in February - are eligible to participate. The letters include all the information necessary to enroll. The final round of letters is scheduled to be sent by June 10.

The primary purpose of Pathway to One is to help students develop skills – such as learning to recognize and to skillfully use individual sounds in spoken words – that will enable them to become better readers. Another important aspect of the program is engaging families in ways that will enable them to help their children make a positive transition to first grade.

The Pathway to One program can accept up to 300 students. Virtual sessions will begin on July 6 and will be held Mondays through Thursdays through July 30 for a total of 16 days.

Financial support for Pathway to One comes from Project Impact, a local initiative created by the business community to support early childhood education.

Note: Pathway to K will not be held this summer.

Path 11 By Kim Underwood

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

MAY 28, 2020 – In 2018, Pathway to One was established to offer enriching experiences during the summer for students who had finished kindergarten and would benefit from additional support before entering first grade.

The primary goal was to help students develop the phonemic awareness skills that would help them become better readers. Those skills include learning to recognize and name each letter and to know the sounds associated with each letter.

Along with helping students develop become stronger readers, Pathway to One included a focus on math, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), problem-solving, building listening skills, and enhancing their self-esteem.

An important part of the program was reaching out to families and helping to engage them in their child’s learning and to help them ensure a positive transition to first grade.

Elizabeth Noell is the Director of Pathway to One.

Research has shown, Noell said, that the early years of learning – pre-kindergarten through second grade – are the most crucial years in terms of children developing their skills as learners. So it’s important to provide as much support as possible.

With students now learning at home and continuing to do that during the summer, the challenge for Noell and the members of Pathway to One Planning Committee – working with the support of Vanessa Osborne, the school system’s Transitions Coordinator – was to find creative alternatives to reaching those goals this summer.

They have done that.

Path 66 For one, each teacher will be working with a smaller number of students. Each teacher will have no more than 12 students, and, at times, each teacher will also work one-on-one with each student.

Teachers are also offering flexibility with scheduling. Depending on what works best for students and their families, the Pathway to One day might start in the morning or the afternoon, or even the evening.

“We are offering what works best for the families,” Noell said. “We’re going to adapt to their needs.”

Bilingual teachers will so be available to serve both students and parents who need assistance.

Each day will begin with a focus on phonemic awareness activities. Activities later on might include read-aloud sessions and problem-solving projects that help students develop their math skills. Social and emotional learning is also an important part of the program, Noell said.

Although work will be done virtually, students will also receive tangible tools. One day each week, teachers will take supply bags filled with books and materials for projects to elementary schools. There, parents can – by appointment – pick them up.

Path 99 In previous years, family engagement nights were held at schools and churches. This summer, virtual sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings. The program will be known as BRIDGES (Building Relationships, In families, for the Development, Growth and Engagement of Students).

The primary funding for Pathway to One comes from Project Impact, a local initiative created by the business community to support early childhood education.

“They are fulfilling such a need,” Noell said.

Kelley Bendheim is Executive Director of Project Impact and Coordinator of the Office of Early Learning.

"Since 2016, Project Impact has been supporting WS/FCS by focusing its funding efforts in three areas:  pre-kindergarten programs, quality extended learning opportunities and teacher professional development and support,” Bendheim said.

“As part of the extended learning opportunities, Project Impact funds the Pathway to K and Pathway to One summer programs.  The district is grateful for the support that Project Impact provides through funding many of our early learning initiatives."

This year, the program is also receiving substantial additional support from the Heinneman Book Co., which is providing books for students, and from the couple who created the Max Rhymes series of books – Todd and Jackie Courtney.

Max 33 Heinneman has donated a number of boxes of books to give to students, and the Courtneys, who are based in San Jose, Calif., are supplying Max Rhymes books. The Max Rhymes books teach students about the importance of such traits as responsibility and gratitude while helping them develop their phonemic awareness skills, Noell said.

Todd Courtney said that his wife wanted to write children’s books together. It was learning that research shows that 95 percent of behavioral patterns are set by the age of 7 that made him see the importance of creating books that “act as a magical tool for the parents to easily teach core values, self-empowerment, and positive behavior.

“In other words, we weren’t interested in simply creating cute books,” he said. “We were committed to create something that would change lives for the better.”

The members of the Pathway to One Planning Committee are:

Laura Wilmoth

Deann Kidd

Kathryn Tart

Katisha Fonville

Melanie Pulliam

Several members of the Planning Committee shared their thoughts about the program.

Path 55 Laura Wilmoth is the Instructional Facilitator at Diggs-Latham Elementary:

“We have spent a great deal of time as a planning committee changing the curriculum to meet the needs of students.  When we found out that P2One would take place virtually, we had to do quite a bit of revision in what the instruction would look like. “

“I worked with the Literacy and STEM portions of the curriculum.  For Literacy, we pared down what materials would be needed and determined how to make the materials useful for teaching a variety of concepts. We then focused on creating documents that will help parents understand how to use the materials at home as an added layer of support for students.”

“We are organizing the lesson plans and instruction for teachers in a way that will be easy to follow and will allow them to focus the majority of their time helping students virtually. For STEM, we chose different lessons that are simple and will allow us to provide students with materials to complete the activities.  All of our STEM lessons will still have a literacy connection and will be based on a read aloud story.”

“During their first year of school, students are exposed to a variety of academic concepts.  Students make learning connections based on many things:  background knowledge, previous experiences, family support, teacher support, attitude toward learning, etc.  If students experience challenges with learning in any content area, a gap is created.  Over time these gaps potentially widen if appropriate instructional support is not provided.”

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 school closure has probably widened many of those gaps.  Our hope is that P2One can help to close some of those academic gaps for students as they begin first grade. Students are chosen for the program based on academic need in specific areas of literacy. We have designed the instruction to target those specific needs in smaller group settings in order to offer more one-to-one teacher support. Teachers will be completing one-to-one assessments to determine specific needs for students and will provide instruction based on those individual needs.”

“I think the positive for P2One being virtual this summer is that we will still be able to offer support to students even though we will not provide classroom instruction.  By offering virtual support, we will be able to include families as part of the support team for students. Virtual instruction will allow us to model ways that families can support the same learning at home. Family connections have always been important in the P2One program, but this summer the family connections will be vital to both the students' success and the success of the program itself.”

“I think that eLearning in general has been difficult for all parties involved during the school closure due to COVID.  Making sure that all students have access to the technology is only one piece of the puzzle.  Making sure that families understand how to use the technology is just as important.  Also, many families are struggling with finding the time to support eLearning because of work outside of the home, child care issues, multiple students needing support, etc.  I think that P2One may experience some of these same difficulties with eLearning.”

“Also, my opinion is that face-to-face instruction with phonemic awareness concepts will look and feel very different through virtual meetings...and will hold different challenges such as technology delays, sound and video issues, and being able to keep students engaged from afar.”

“P2One is an incredible opportunity for WS/FCS kindergarten students...and we will do the best we can to provide engaging instruction that targets specific needs of students based on data.  P2One is always amazing...we will just have to go the extra mile to make sure that virtual P2One is just as amazing!”

Path 6 Pulliam teaches first grade at Sedge Garden Elementary:

“I think that Pathway to One virtual will be a great opportunity for students to bridge the gap between kindergarten and first grade. This is especially needed this year due to the COVID pandemic and the lost opportunities for students to interact in the classroom setting.”

“Pathways will be a great experience for students and parents who want to help with preparing their students for first grade. It will be crucial for parents to work with their student each day to complete all of the interventions and activities which will give them a hands-on peek at what the students are expected to be able to do and how to help them achieve their goals.”

“It is my hope that students and parents have a better understanding of what  to expect next year as first graders and feel confident starting the 20-21 school year.”  

Katisha Fonville teaches kindergarten at Kimberly Park Elementary.

“This year yields a different presentation. However, the structure of the program was not lost. With the sudden change to E-Learning, as a kindergarten teacher, I was forced into using platforms that I was unfamiliar with to continue meeting the needs of my students even from a distance.”

Pathway 33 “Some of the ideas came from successfully using teaching tools such as YouTube Videos and Seesaw to cover priority standards and create engaging assignments for students to complete. With goals already in place and clear to the team, planning seemed effortless. The process was well-organized and discussed in depth during our weekly MS Teams meetings.”

“The vision was already in place for the regular meetings. Now the team brainstormed ways that demonstrated most successful during this revised E-Learning experience. Everyone was assigned a focus area and created personally, a well packaged Virtual experience for the teachers, students, and parents.”

“Students in this program will have another chance at being prepared for the upcoming year as those needed skills will be addressed during the program as well as the continued participation in the virtual learning experience. Coming into virtual learning, this may have been a challenge for teachers, students, as well as parents; however now this can prepare us for the upcoming year and the way virtual learning may be part learning for everyone.”

“Having the smaller teacher/student ratio allows relationship-building and the ability to give more individualized support to the students. The challenges presented in the program may come from internet connectivity issues as most other issues can be resolved by communication.”

“I am really looking forward to being a part of the first virtual Pathways to One Bridges team and this new adventure.”

Project Impact has provided nearly $17 million in grants to WS/FCS to support PreK - 2nd grade programs. Of that, more than $ 3 million in grants have been awarded to WS/FCS to support extended learning opportunities and more that $7 million dollars in grants have been awarded to WS/FCS to support PreK expansion, quality, and support.


Kim Underwood