Nicole Patton-Terry at a conference

Terry discusses work with families at summit

The way College of Education & Human Development Professor Nicole Patton Terry sees it, one of the biggest challenges facing communities today is to ensure “all children enter school ready to learn and ready to succeed.”

At her keynote address at the Community Summit on Children in Tallahassee, Fla., this month, Terry emphasized the phrase “all children,” explaining that those two words encompass a lot of diversity – just take a look at her own family.

She’s one of seven children and her family is about to celebrate the arrival of their 16th grandchild. As she pulled up a photo of all the grandchildren, Terry noted that their ages and genders may be easily identified, but socioeconomic factors, regional differences and other variables weren’t as visible.

“If we are going to talk about all children entering school ready to learn and ready to succeed, we need to think about how we’re helping all children, despite what they’re bringing to the table,” she said.

She highlighted the college’s Urban Child Study Center, which focuses on the overall development and school success of children and youth in urban contexts, and described some of the lessons she’s learned working with partners in Georgia that may help attendees further their work supporting school readiness and achievement.

Terry recommends that communities establish and work hard to maintain partnerships across different sectors, collect data to determine what next steps must be made and make sure community members understand the research on children and families so they can implement it in different settings.

“Translating that knowledge into practice is a very important step,” she explained. “That’s where we researchers need you. I can give you a snazzy research article on a great new intervention but you can turn it into something that your teachers, service providers or parents can really understand. So, translating that research into practice makes a difference.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum hosted the summit, inviting more than 200 business and community leaders together to continue the work of the city’s Family First Initiative, which focuses on “developing policies and programs that prioritize investments in children and families.”

Photo credit: WCTV News