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Kent Regional 4C works with community to improve literacy for children

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Megan Martin helps oversee training, classes, and a conference for childcare providers

/Kristin Brace

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Find up-to-date information about classes offered by Kent Regional 4C

Kent Regional 4C is a Grand Rapids organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children through early care and education by working with parents, providers and the community. They serve over 4,000 children daily through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. And last month, Director of Education Megan Martin and the staff at Kent Regional 4C held their 39th Annual Early Childhood Conference with over 700 participants.

Megan Martin stepped into her role a little over a year ago. A Detroit native, Martin came to the position with many years of experience teaching 1st through 3rd grade in the Cadillac area. She went back to school for a Masters in Literacy Instruction K-12 when she realized that whatever method teachers are using to test kids also should be used to enrich instruction.

“Teachers especially need to have the tools to know how to improve.”

As Director of Education, Martin oversees correspondence, online, and classroom based trainings for childcare providers and parents. Each month sees about 100 participants total. On-site classes are kept to a minimum of 20 people.

“Students who might feel intimidated by a traditional academic setting are able to learn in a comfortable atmosphere.”

Licensed childcare providers need 10 training hours per year. Thanks to a partnership with Grand Valley State University, Continuing Education Units are available for correspondence courses, many of the on-site classes and the annual conference.  

Online classes such as “Brown Bear and Beyond” and “Ready to Read” cost $30 and include material about early childhood development, the six early literacy skills that young children need to become readers and reading activities for children. Students taking the “Playful Literacy and You” correspondence course read research-based articles, learn about educational activities to do with children and discover how to find print-rich sources in their own environment. Other class options can be found on the Kent Regional 4C website.

In addition to offering classes and resources, Kent Regional 4C partners with many community organizations to improve literacy. For example, Martin collaborates with First Steps to match three-year-olds with quality preschools through a scholarship program focused on kindergarten readiness.

After school support is also a focus for Martin. Alongside literacy champions Mayor George Heartwell and Lynn Heemstra of Our Community's Children, Martin works with the ELO Network to provide credentialed training to after school providers.

Martin also coordinates professional development with Kent ISD, works with Bethany Christian Services’ refugee program and connects with the Community Literacy Initiative on a regular basis.

“Literacy is key to our work.”

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