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Press Release

Monday, December 27, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

DOE Celebrates Five Years of VPK with Special Podcast

~ “To the Core” podcast highlights the strengths of this critical program ~

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Education (DOE) proudly posted the next segment of the To the Core podcast series today hosted by Florida Teacher of the Year Cheryl Conley. The podcast honors Florida’s now five-year-old Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK), its development and history, and its success among Florida’s youngest residents. The segment also features new information on what’s in store for VPK in the years ahead.

“For five years now results have shown us that when children participate in a VPK program, even partially, they enter kindergarten better prepared for success,” said Florida Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “I’m excited that the latest To the Core segment highlights this and all that VPK has done to give our children a focused head start on their future education.”

Cynthia R. Lorenzo, Director of the Agency for Workforce Innovation, added: “Since its inception, the VPK program has provided Florida’s four-year-olds with a rich learning environment, which is critical to creating a talent pool of future leaders who will thrive in the classroom and in the workforce. We are grateful for the many successes of the VPK program over the past five years and remain committed to preparing our youngest Floridians for a lifetime of learning success.”

Podcast host, Ms. Cheryl Conley, interviewed DOE VPK Education Policy Consultant Tara Huls regarding the Department’s implementation of the VPK program. Ms. Huls addresses previous, current and future VPK standards; the partnership between DOE and the Agency for Workforce Innovation; parental choice options for VPK; and how parents can get involved in their children’s learning.

“Voluntary Prekindergarten is an important component of the Florida educational system,” Ms. Conley said. “Since the program’s inception, VPK has become instrumental in assisting parents and teachers as they work together to ensure that all of Florida's children enter kindergarten with the foundation needed for a successful education.”

Established in 2005, Florida’s VPK program is jointly administered by the Department of Education, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, and the Department of Children and Families. The program provides funding for 4-year-olds to attend prekindergarten in order to better prepare them for entrance into kindergarten. For more information on this critical program, visit http://www.fldoe.org/earlylearning/perform.asp.

To the Core is a regular podcast produced by the DOE that provides an opportunity for teachers to learn about issues impacting their profession. To download the To the Core podcast, visit http://www.fldoe.org/earlylearning/.