Making MBK Milestone One A Reality Across the Region

  • By Dr. Andrea Coddett, Jennifer Coggio and Sophia Wu

    Yonkers Basics led the way in making MBK Milestone One a lasting reality in New York State by convening the first Hudson Valley Regional Basics Network meeting in November 2018.  The inaugural gathering was a success and created a foundation for the second Network meeting, which took place in Peekskill, on February 15, 2019. 

    MBK Milestone One seeks to ensure that all children enter school ready to learn. The Basics movement is designed to boost brain development in babies from birth through three-years-old using the following evidence-based caregiving practices: Maximize Love, Manage Stress; Talk, Sing and Point; Count, Group and Compare; Explore through Movement and Play; and Read and Discuss Stories.

    November’s inaugural Hudson Valley Regional Basics Network meeting established a coalition that aims to exchange ideas and offer mutual support several times a year. The Basics founder, Dr. Ronald Ferguson of Harvard University, and The National Basics Network collaborated on the November 30th event, which drew 60 participants from more than 10 school districts, institutions of higher education, community organizations, and state agencies. New York State Regents Lester Young and Luis Reyes, Co-Chairs of the New York State Board of Regents Early Childhood Blue Ribbon Committee joined educators from Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Nyack, Ossining, Peekskill, Tarrytown, Yonkers and three New York City public school districts.

    Attendees shared best practices and practical tips and engaged in an interactive simulation about how to saturate their communities with the five Basics pillars. They also participated in workshops. Dr. Ferguson and his colleague Jocelyn Friedlander led a session on key data measurement. Jennifer Coggio, Yonkers’ Director of Early Childhood Education, and Dr. Jennifer Longley, a Borough of Manhattan Community College early childhood expert and lead Basics trainer, guided participants through a workshop on implementation and training.

    Regents Young and Reyes, Yonkers Board of Education President Rev. Steve Lopez and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, offered state and district perspectives on student readiness. The Regents shared their belief that early childhood education benefits all children, all families, and society as a whole. They are working to secure funding for high-quality early childhood education programs that recruit and retain highly effective, culturally responsive, and linguistically-prepared educators. Their vision for New York is to ensure that young children get a healthy start from birth, become ready for kindergarten, stay on track to graduate from high school, and are successful in life. 

    Dr. Quezada stressed the importance of closing the achievement gap among our students, efforts which, according to Dr. Ferguson’s research, should begin in their earliest days. His findings suggest that achieving pre-kindergarten and kindergarten school readiness will assist in the narrowing of the achievement gap.  

    Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Andrea Coddett shared Yonkers Basics’ Year One progress and Year Two plans.  The meeting ended with the recitation of “The Caregiver’s Promise,” a poem written by Dr. Ferguson. Following the event, participants said they were grateful to learn about the inspiring work happening in Yonkers and were excited to “borrow” ideas from one another.

    Through shared ideas, regional collaboration and use of The Basics, we can ensure that brain growth for children is maximized so they enter school cognitively, physically and social-emotionally prepared to learn and succeed.