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Joyce Ruppell was recently appointed director of early-childhood initiatives at Connecting for Children & Families Inc. Ruppell will now be responsible for the nonprofit’s Early Reading First and Parents as Teachers programs. After earning a B.A. from Barrington College, Ruppell went on to receive an M.Ed. from Rhode Island College. She is currently working toward a doctorate in educational leadership at Johnson & Wales University.
PBN: Can you tell us about the Early Reading First program?
RUPPELL: Early Reading First: Phenomenal Readers was created [by the U.S. Deptartment of Education] to address the growing concern that many of our nation’s children begin kindergarten without the necessary foundation to fully benefit from formal school instruction. Early Reading First supports the development of early-childhood centers of excellence that focus on all areas of development, especially early language, cognitive skills, and prereading skills that prepare children for continued school success and that serve primarily families with low incomes.
PBN: What is the Parents as Teachers program?
RUPPELL: Parents as Teachers is a national and international program that provides parents with personal visits, group meetings, development screenings and a resource and referral network. It was created to promote strong families by providing information on child development and how parents can build strong, protective factors.
In Early Reading First and Parents as Teachers, we desire to improve literacy outcomes for all children and enhance optimal development. Parents and caregivers are an important partner in both of these programs. As such, we provide many opportunities for families to be more involved in their child’s education with monthly meetings, library events, take-home story bags and specialized training.
PBN: : How will your previous experience as an elementary school principal prepare you to oversee these two programs?
RUPPELL: I was privileged to serve as an elementary school principal for five years in two Rhode Island school districts. During this time I participated in continuous quality initiatives, such as accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children and leading School Improvement Teams. These experiences taught me the importance of improving the services of whatever organization I am working with and emphasizing the quality of the future results that are desired. •