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Grant results in 100 books for local kids
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Elizabeth Garcia (top left), former Smart Beginnings intern, presents Peggy Lester (top right), owner of Piedmont Child Care, with books awarded by a grant from The Lisa Libraries. Garcia wrote the grant during her internship with Smart Beginnings last summer. Enjoying the books are Destiny Preston (lower left) and Justice Martin. (Contributed photo)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When Elizabeth Garcia began her internship with Smart Beginnings over the summer, she never thought she would return at Thanksgiving to finish a project, but that’s what she did.

On Wednesday, she presented 100 books to Piedmont Child Care, received through a grant she had written during her summer NCI internship.

Garcia requested the grant from The Lisa Libraries foundation, a nonprofit agency that donates books to organizations for children in under-served areas. The foundation then donated enough books to establish classroom libraries at Piedmont Child Care.

Garcia, who is completing her student teaching requirements at a local elementary school, was pleasantly surprised when she received a call from Smart Beginnings saying the grant had been approved and it would receive enough books to set up four classroom libraries at Piedmont Child Care.

“It’s exciting to know that while I was learning from Smart Beginnings, I was also able to meet a need and help others in the community,” Garcia said. “Who knows, someday one of the children from the center may be sitting in my classroom and I can know that in a small way I helped prepare them to be ready for school.”

As a future elementary teacher, Garcia said she pursued an internship with Smart Beginnings because she felt it would give her an opportunity to learn more about resources available in the community for families with young children.

As part of the job, she also found she was able to put skills learned in the classroom to work by writing a grant to address a need for books at a local child care center participating in Smart Beginnings’ Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI) project.

Smart Beginnings Director Sheryl Agee credited Garcia’s internship experience with helping teach her how to recognize the needs of children and educators.

“The NCI (New College Institute)-Harvest internship program provides us with outstanding young professionals like Elizabeth,” Agee said. “As a future teacher, she recognized that quality early learning centers are needed to get our children ready for school.”

The Virginia Star Quality Initiative was developed to provide a way to distinguish and improve the quality of early care and education programs and provides a way for families to make informed choices about the care of their young children. It also provides opportunities and incentives for early learning providers to continually improve the quality of their services.

Agee said she believes Garcia’s work helped Smart Beginnings put all things together to aid a worthwhile cause.

“Smart Beginnings is all about connecting the dots to make sure our community has a strong early childhood system so all children will be ready for school and ready for life. This was a great example of what can happen when we work together,” Agee added.


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