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New PEAK Leader Looks To Stronger District Ties

Valerie Jackson (inset) and youngsters at play in the PEAK program

POTTSTOWN PA – Valerie Jackson, newly named coordinator for the Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness (PEAK) program, sees a growing opportunity for collaboration between the Pottsgrove and Pottstown school districts.

Jackson says she wants to build upon and strengthen work PEAK has already done and, specifically, “to forge a relationship” between Pottstown and Pottsgrove schools, “because there is a high transiency between the two districts and we use the same reading curriculum, Reading Wonders.” By working with neighboring Pottsgrove, Jackson hopes to ease transitions for students and families.

Jackson has been named to succeed former PEAK Coordinator Mary Rieck, who retired from the program’s leadership, it announced Monday (July 24, 2017) in a press release. PEAK is a collaboration of the Pottstown School District, community organizations, and Pottstown families to design and implement strategies that enable children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

She most recently was PEAK’s community engagement coordinator, and before that worked as its part-time community parent organizer. “I know the bus. I’m ready to drive the bus,” Jackson said of her new title.

Jackson’s not alone in her vision of creating closer ties between the Pottstown and Pottsgrove pre-K efforts. It’s the same opportunity West Pottsgrove Elementary School Principal Terri Koehler, and Ringing Rocks Principal Lisa Jones, identified for the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors earlier this year.

They told directors about their intention to reach out and work more closely with both publicly funded and private early learning centers and pre-K care providers like PEAK, so families could benefit.

During Pottsgrove’s February and March registration drive for the 2017-2018 academic year, Koehler said the principals were heartened by a “really positive response” from outside-the-district groups. Both were interested in finding more ways to collaborate, Koehler said.

Before her promotion, Jackson co-facilitated meetings and helped with leadership skills training for a Family Advisory Committee that encouraged open communication between the school district and families. Additionally a combined annual event, Pottstown Celebrates Young Children and YMCA Healthy Kids Day, has grown under Jackson’s leadership. Vendor participation increased by 40 percent in 2017, PEAK said.

Jackson and children’s photos from PEAK

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