Early Learning & Student Success

The first five years of life are critical to a child’s lifelong development. Young children’s earliest experiences and environments set the stage for future development and success in school and life. Early experiences actually influence brain development, establishing the neural connections that provide the foundation for language, reasoning, problem solving, social skills, behavior, and emotional health.

Early Learning and Student Success is a component of the vision designed to inform and influence citizens, policy-makers, practitioners, and funders on the importance of early learning. Early Learning and Student Success will recommend transformative best practices that schools, communities, policy-makers and stakeholders will use to address factors that contribute to and support early learning and intervention for children from birth through five years of age.

These recommendations will inspire and activate a greater local, state, and federal priority for early learning initiatives that align early childhood and K-12 educational systems.

A principle is a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived. It is a statement of value that is unchanging over time.

Planning Group




Michael Murphy
St. Clair R-XIII
Peggy Taylor
Nixa Co-Chair/Board Member
Phyllis Barks
MSBA Facilitator
Kathy Thombug DESE Liaison
Bev Borgeson Mexico 59 Board Member
Judy Duden Kirksville R-III Board Member
Cheryl Compton Ritenour Superintendent
Julie Germann Monett R-I Superintendent
Toni Hill Portageville Superintendent
Nancy Masterson Camdenton R-III Board Member
Tim McCraw Windsor C-1 Board Member
Dr. Anthony Moore Kansas City 33 Asst. Superintendent
John James Mid-Buchanan R-V Superintendent
Michael Ringen Holden R-III Superintendent
Debbie Stenner Platte County R-III Superintendent
Marilyn Stewart St. Louis Special Board Member
Lisa Vanderburg Moberly Board Member
Tina Woolsey Mexico Superintendent

Guiding Principles

The family plays the most important role in a young child’s life; schools are vital in forming partnerships with families to develop systems of support.

The first six years of life are the most critical developmental period.

Child development (early learning) occurs across equally important and interrelated domains – physical well-being and motor development, social and emotional development, approaches to learning, language development and cognition and general knowledge.

Children learn differently and at different rates.

Children learn best through creative, constructivist learning activities.

High quality early learning programs should be available and accessible to all children.

Professional expertise (certified teacher) with adequate compensation; High standards should be established related to curriculum and facilities.

Early learning experiences result in significant return on investment.