It’s a new day for FutureReady Columbus. We have a new focus and a new leader.
The evidence about the importance of early childhood education is indisputable: Countless studies have shown that when children attend high-quality early childhood programs, they’re less likely to be placed in special education, less likely to be retained in a grade level and more likely to graduate high school.
I serve as board co-chair of FutureReady, along with Cardinal Health Board Chairman George Barrett. Over the last year, we realized we could best serve the residents of Columbus if we concentrated our efforts on the crucial years, birth through age 5, to prepare our youngest residents for school and for life. This new focus will work as a bridge from CelebrateOne — my initiative that works to help more babies reach their first birthdays — to kindergarten.
With a new direction, we also needed a new director. The board conducted a thoughtful, deliberate search for the absolute perfect person for the job. Jane Leach is that person.
Jane has served as both a teacher and principal with Columbus City Schools for nearly 20 years. Most recently, she served as an administrator with Hilliard City Schools. She also founded the nonprofit 5-star rated Hilltop Preschool in 2007 to help prepare Hilltop’s most disadvantaged children for kindergarten. Over the past year, she chaired my Hilltop Early Childhood Partnership, with the goal of doubling the number of Hilltop children enrolled in quality early learning programs by 2020.
Not surprisingly, Jane is already off and running, just a month after her appointment. Her goal is to use FutureReady as a catalyst to address educational challenges in central Ohio by bringing together many parties involved in childhood development—libraries, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, pediatricians, mental health professionals and families.
As she says, “It takes all of our partners working together to make sure all children succeed. It’s not just a preschool that’s going to get the job done. It’s not just the public schools that are going to get the job done.”
We all have a role to play in this important work that will be a key to the success of our next generation.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Jane at the helm of FutureReady. Under her direction, I am confident FutureReady will develop and carry out our community’s vision for a comprehensive birth to five early learning and wellness strategy.
Ginther is Mayor of Columbus.