An Exciting Time for Early Childhood in Summit County

About 200 people gather for event thrown in appreciation of early childhood professionals

One year, dozens of meetings and another Transition Skills Summary (TSS) Kick-Off later, 29 more Readiness Coalitions have formed across Summit County.

Summit County Readiness Coalition leaders

Summit County Readiness Coalition leaders gather on stage. Now, 37 coalitions exist across the county.

In January 2017, early childhood professionals gathered at Akron Civic Theatre to celebrate the successes of the TSS in a new way. The first TSS Kick-Off highlighted ways preschool teachers contribute to the bigger picture of early childhood education initiatives by participating in the TSS. The event also introduced the first eight Readiness Coalition leaders and highlighted the purpose of their work, which is to explore ways early childhood professionals and supporters can work together to prepare children for kindergarten success.

This year, preschool directors and staff, elementary principals, kindergarten teachers and school district administrators returned to the Civic for an even bigger kick-off celebration on Thursday, Jan. 25. Similar to the first kick-off event’s format, nearly 200 attendees were encouraged to mingle with others who work or have worked with students from their district during the networking portion of the evening. Everyone then gathered in the auditorium for a brief presentation at 6 p.m.

During the presentation, Readiness Coalition leaders again received recognition. Thanks to support from Akron Community Foundation, coalition leaders also received a $500 check to help support their projects through the coming school year.

Matt Deevers, Laura DiCola, Cristina Gonzalez Alcala, Danielle Bentley and Courtney Davis

Dr. Matt Deevers, senior research associate at Summit Education Initiative, introduces TSS Kick-Off speakers on stage.

“Seeing Summit County school district and elementary school leaders gathered together on stage was very impactful,” says Laura DiCola, early childhood strategy leader at Summit Education Initiative (SEI). On stage during the event, DiCola explained how the TSS has contributed to Readiness Coalitions forming across the county.

Danielle Bentley, director of Irma A. Jones Preschool & Infant Center in Akron, also took the stage to explain why her center participates in the TSS. Courtney Davis, principal of Dunbar Primary School in Tallmadge, followed up with her story about how the TSS has made a difference in her school and why it is important. (For more event photos, click here.)

TSS Kick-Off attendees at the Akron Civic Theatre

Attendees mingle in the lobby of Akron Civic Theatre during the Transition Skills Summary Kick-Off.

Part of the Summit County First Things First initiative, the TSS indicates what a child needs to accomplish before entering kindergarten to ensure they are ready for success. SEI provides infrastructure and technical support to preschools and child care centers that participate in the TSS. Early Childhood Resource Center, Info Line, Inc., State Support Team Region 8, Summit County First Things First and Summit Educational Service Center collaborate with SEI to administer the TSS.

Visit this link for more information about the TSS, or visit Summit County First Things First’s website to learn more about the TSS registration process. Individuals may also learn more about SEI’s work and ways to get involved at