Looking Back, Moving Forward: Early School Success Academy’s Year in Review


by Aditi Sharma



Exciting news! Children’s Institute’s Early Learning Academy is now the Early School Success Academy (ESS Academy).

The name has changed, but everything else remains the same. The ESS Academy will continue its mission to empower educators in strengthening early learning, from preschool to third grade in their communities through a team-based learning experience. 

Read on to take a look back with us as we reflect on the 2023-2024 ESS Academy, and discover why this learning opportunity is too good to miss!


A room of people coming together for legislative meetings.

As always, the ESS Academy offers educators, administrators, and other school staff a chance to come together, learn, and collaborate to strengthen educational systems for children in Oregon.

Last year, nine school districts joined us for a series of engaging sessions and personalized coaching. Partner districts in attendance included Centennial, Columbia Gorge ESD, Wallowa ESD, Eugene 4J, Grants Pass, Gresham-Barlow, Hillsboro, South Lane, and Yoncalla school districts. Teams comprised of preschool through second-grade educators, instructional coaches, elementary principals, and district early learning leaders.


Three women working in early childhood advocacy, including Elena and Andi from CI's Policy team.

Designed as a hub for networking and shared growth, t
he ESS Academy fosters collaboration and shared learning among school communities and this year’s cohort was committed to strengthening their own practices, with support from their colleagues from other areas of the state. The 2023-2024 Academy began with a full-day session centered on integrating diverse perspectives into change planning. Teams aligned their efforts with continuous improvement principles and crafted actionable strategies tailored to their unique school environments, in subsequent sessions.


Central to this collaborative journey were our valued culturally specific community partners – Adelante Mujeres, Center for African Immigrants and Refugees (CAIRO), Youth Organized and United to Help (Y.O.U.T.H), and Strength-based Prevention, Intervention & Resilience Informing Teaching Strategies (S.P.I.R.I.T.S). They
facilitated critical dialogues on topics such as kindergarten readiness; power to motivate, inspire, empower; and why it is important to engage in the cultural strengths within our communities.

Reflecting on their experiences, participants expressed newfound clarity and optimism.

“I used to think our work was too big to be impactful right away, and now I see a path forward with an impactful and meaningful starting place,” said one participant.

Another noted the power of partnership in driving systemic change.

“I used to think that our K-12 system had to figure it out alone. Now, I think we must do it in partnership with a very wide network of stakeholders,” they said.

Facilitated entirely online to accommodate educators’ diverse schedules, the ESS Academy offers a professional learning experience like no other. Participants echoed a resounding appreciation for the program’s unique blend of guided facilitation and dedicated team time within the sessions, where the focused collaboration and connection with other districts enriched their progress. 

Looking ahead, the
ESS Academy invites school teams to join a dynamic statewide network of educators committed to strengthening early learning in their school communities. Educators gain access to rich content, expert thought partnerships, coaching, resources, and membership to our exclusive change library by participating.


Curious to learn more? Contact our Professional Learning Specialist, Shawnté Hines, at shawnte@childinst.org and join the Early School Success Academy 2024-2025! 



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