Why Should Early Learning and Elementary School Leaders Seize the Opportunity to Become P-3 Leaders? A Graduate Shares Her Reasons

Applications for GEEARS’ Preschool to Third Grade Leaders (P-3) Fellowship are open through July 12th. Read on to learn why you should apply!  

Dr. Monica B. Reckley admits that when she first heard about the Preschool to Third Grade (P-3) Leaders Fellowship, she was skeptical.  

“I’m super busy,” she explained recently. This is no surprise—Reckley is principal of Fayetteville Elementary School. “But Dr. Julie Turner, who is a former Assistant Superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools, reached out to us and gave the program a plug. I respect her a lot so I said, ‘If you think it’s worthwhile, I’ll put it on my calendar and try to make it happen.’ 

“Well,” Reckley added, a sparkle in her voice, “after my first visit, I was sold. We were in a room with [early learning leaders and elementary school principals] who had a common goal—to ensure the students were more ready for Kindergarten or even Pre-K by really combining all our knowledge, experiences, and resources. That’s when we realized just how much we didn’t know about each other!” 

Reckley says she benefitted greatly from touring the early learning fellows’ child care programs, gaining insight into differences she hadn’t considered. Kindergarteners’ August accidents, for instance, were explained away when she realized that new students needed help transitioning from the scheduled bathroom breaks they’d known in preschool to the go-when-you’ve-got-to approach of elementary school. 

On the flip side, Reckley found that her early learning counterparts didn’t know as much about elementary curricula as she’d assumed because they weren’t on her school’s community mailing list, which regularly sends stakeholders school news and information. Reckley made quick work of adding nearby early learning centers to her database.  

Reckley reports that the members of her cohort plan to continue touring each other’s spaces and exchanging information, even now that their fellowship has ended.  

“We‘ve already seen results,” she says. “When the child care centers were able to pass on our kindergarten information to their parents, and it didn’t look like spam, we got more students to register for kindergarten right away.”  

Collaboration about timing and transportation has also helped coordinate and streamline the pathways for children who go to nearby centers for early care, after-care, or summer care. Their cooperation has helped parents be able keep their kids in both programs, bringing the early centers’ vital income and keeping enrollment up at Fayetteville Elementary.  

So, these are some of the results Reckley has seen from her fellowship year. But what about her time during it?  

Reckley offers two big reasons she loved participating—and highly recommends it for other education leaders.  

“It’s a mutual experience,” she explains. “You have to understand that you’re not just going and giving to the program, you’re also getting something. The lessons, the programming, and definitely the relationships. I had these leaders’ phone numbers and emails before, but our communications always felt businessy and even intimidating in a way. But after those four sessions together, it was completely friendly. There was no more Dr. Reckley—I was Monica!”  

 Click here to apply to the Preschool to Third Grade (P-3) Leaders Fellowship today!