Positive Bridges

Early childhood is the most crucial part of education, so I am going to make a positive impact in early childhood education.

Photo of Taienza Adkinson
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

I am an elementary school teacher. I have been teaching for 16 years. My primary focus has been between 4th and 5th grades. The majority of the students I have taught, are below grade level, sometimes as low as Kindergarten grade level. Kids should have to have strong literacy skills before Kindergarten. Most people think learning begins there or even 1st grade. I will provide strong literacy skills at the preschool level, as well as build English language for second language learners.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Arizona

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Arizona

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Phoenix and Glendale

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

This project will operate in the education realm. It will combat students starting school with a deficit. This problem persists because Early childhood is not viewed as a necessity. This is a target because year after year, I see many students in the upper grades, missing basic reading and math skills. At that point, standards are not geared towards the basics. There will be a decline in that area if students begin their education journey early.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Education

Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

This past school year, I had a 4th grade student whoso reading/math skills were very basic. She had entered 3rd grade without knowing letters and sounds. I had to pull her in small group to teach her phonics and decoding skills, but she was expected to read passages and answer questions. Then in math, I had to teach her multiplication tricks to learn or at least be able to figure out basic facts, when she was expected to multiply problems like 325 X 7 or 34 X 24. She was not a confident learner, but by the end of the school year, she was reading through longer passages and solving some of those harder problems. Though she may have not passed the state test, she made progress and felt more confident.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

NA- My project is not in progress yet.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

There are other Early childhood facilities, but mine will be geared towards 3-5 year olds. I will teach them skills to prepare them for kindergarten. They will be ready to read if not reading, know how to write, and have basic addition and subtraction skills. For students who may have a language barrier because that's common in AZ, I will also enhance their English language.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Education is forever changing, and so are kids. Ways to reach them effectively has to change with time as well. I am for whatever makes positive changes. Learning new trends is exciting because you are exposed to different viewpoints. Educators have to be flexible and able to change with the times. Whatever it takes to touch the latest generation is necessary and worth it.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Barbara McDuffy


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jessie Mandle

Thank you for work as a teacher and your contribution! A strong start in early childhood is critical. I am also interested to learn more details about your are planned project. Good luck!

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