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Pictured Left to Right Carmen Montano, Nancy Howe, Ken Yeager, Potter
the Otter, Mary Ann Dewan, Sue Kehl, and Jolene Smith.
CAMPBELL, CA – A new children's storybook helping preschoolers and parents prepare for kindergarten was released today during Campbell Library's regularly scheduled Family Storytelling Time. "Potter the Otter Gets Ready for Kindergarten," a collaborative effort between the Santa Clara County Office of Education and FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, was unveiled to the public and will soon be distributed across the county.
"We are thrilled to partner with FIRST 5 to create this storybook that families can read together to help prepare their child for school," commented Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools. "The research is very clear that kindergarten readiness is a successful strategy in closing the achievement gap and increasing a student's academic success."
Dr. Dewan stated it was important to create a resource that would assist all families with kindergarten readiness. SCCOE and FIRST 5 collaborated to write a story with Potter the Otter, and the County Office of Education funded the first printing of 25,000 copies as an investment in the community. The storybook is being released before the start of the summer as a reminder to families to enroll their child for kindergarten. As we learn in "Potter the Otter Gets Ready for Kindergarten," there is a lot to do to prepare for the start of school including filling out enrollment forms, getting the necessary health screenings, and purchasing supplies.
This is the fourth storybook in the Potter the Otter series, which was developed by FIRST 5 Santa Clara County in 2011. The first book, "Potter the Otter: A Tale about Water" which narrates the tale of an otter who teaches his friends to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, was developed as an early childhood obesity prevention strategy. Over 1 million copies of the book have been distributed throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia.
"We are proud to partner with SCCOE on this exciting new chapter for Potter the Otter. Over the years Potter and his friends have been effective messengers in encouraging young children and families across the globe to drink water, eat healthy, and be physically active. Today we are excited to release "Potter the Otter Gets Ready for Kindergarten" which will serve as a tool for young children and their families to engage in a dialogue around school readiness," said Jolene Smith, CEO, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County.
Members from the Strong Start Coalition, a group of education and community partners focused on providing high quality early learning opportunities for students in Santa Clara County, are helping to organize the distribution of the first 25,000 storybooks. Strong Start partners including the San Jose Public Library, Santa Clara County Library District, and Valley Medical Center will assist in the distribution of the storybooks.
The release event featured speakers including Supervisor Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County Supervisor and FIRST 5 Commission Chair; Nancy Howe, Santa Clara County Library District County Librarian; and Sue Kehl, Director of Nursing at Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center. Dr. Dewan also read the storybook to families attending the event. Potter the Otter was on hand to greet young children and families and distribute giveaways and healthy refreshments.
Dr. Dewan reads "Potter the Otter Gets Ready for Kindergarten" to local families.
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Working in partnership with school districts and community organizations, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) provides instructional and business services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County. The SCCOE directly serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The Office also offers academic and fiscal oversight and monitoring to districts in addition to curriculum support, staff development, and technology support and training. Through its Charter Schools Office, the SCCOE oversees the 23 Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized charter schools.