Newswise — A new in-district early childhood campus will open in fall 2021 through a partnership between the Victoria Independent School District (VISD) and child development and education experts with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Reopening the campus through this partnership in a historic Victoria community facility, the CLI Early Childhood Education Center at F.W. Gross will serve children from age 3 through first grade.

Students will receive comprehensive early education through research-based curriculum and progress monitoring, as well as individualized intervention to target each child’s strengths and opportunities for growth, including wraparound, family-centered services supporting student success and well-being. The campus will also serve as a learning lab for VISD employees, providing educators with evidence-based professional development, leadership training, and peer collaboration. This will be the first designated early childhood campus within VISD.

“We are excited to forge this new partnership with the Children’s Learning Institute. Victoria ISD has prioritized early childhood education for the past several years, and this partnership represents yet another step forward for the VISD community as we work to establish the premier educational experience our kids deserve,” said Quintin Shepherd, PhD, VISD Superintendent.

Founded in 2003, the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth includes experts in fields ranging from psychology to neurodevelopment, as well as education and child development. The institute’s mission is to advance learning and health outcomes for all children through public and private partnerships in research, resource development, clinical programs, and service delivery. For more than 17 years, CLI’s Texas School Ready, the state’s signature school-based early education program, has positively impacted more than 1.2 million children.

“At CLI, our team is committed to helping children be prepared for kindergarten, achieved through research-based school readiness programs that serve schools, teachers, and parents. By establishing this early childhood campus with VISD, we are enthusiastic to join their efforts providing high-quality education experiences for young children,” said Susan Landry, PhD, founding director of CLI and the Albert and Margaret Alkek Distinguished Chair in Early Childhood Development.

During the first two school years, any student residing in the attendance zone is eligible to enroll. Students that reside outside of the attendance zone, but within the district, will be able to enroll based on availability.

After the first two years of operation, the school will have open enrollment, where any student, regardless of test scores, grades, conduct, or educational placement will be admitted.  Enrollment will be prioritized based on previous campus enrollment, in district, and out of district – with a lottery style enrollment should applications exceed space.

“Building upon our long-standing relationship with VISD, this new campus offers opportunities to establish a coordinated, comprehensive model to positively impact children’s learning by partnering with teachers and families. We look forward to welcoming our new students in August 2021, and sharing our program with VISD’s school leaders to support impacts across the district,” said April Crawford, PhD, co-director and director of state initiatives of CLI, and an associate professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

For more information about the Children’s Learning Institute Early Childhood Education Center at F.W. Gross, visit Learn more about free educational resources provided by CLI for parents, teachers, mentors, and private childcare centers here.

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