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This Vegas educator runs a preschool in her garage. She just won an award.

Scholarship applications open, and state board to hold a meeting on proposed school start time regulation.
Rocio Hernandez
Rocio Hernandez
EducationK-12 Education
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Good morning, and welcome to the Indy Education newsletter. I’m Rocio Hernandez, The Nevada Independent’s K-12 education reporter. 

This newsletter provides a recap of the latest education stories and highlights interesting educators, students, programs and other events and resources throughout the state. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter and receive it each Tuesday via email.

I want to hear from you! Send questions, comments or suggestions on what I should be covering to [email protected]

News Briefs

Hannah, a teacher at Under the Magic Pine Tree, a preschool and day care in Gardnerville, reads to her classroom. (Courtesy of Moira Nemendez)

Preschool availability — The United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra is accepting applications from families looking for preschool opportunities in Northern Nevada. The organization partners with private early childhood education centers in Douglas, Elko, Lyon and Washoe counties to offer free, high-quality pre-K. To be eligible, children must be at least 4 years old by Aug. 1, 2023, and their family household income must be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. As an example, for a family of five, the annual gross income to qualify is $70,280 or less. Find more information about the program here

Public Education Foundation (PEF) Scholarships — It’s scholarship season. The PEF is taking applications for hundreds of scholarships to help students pay for college or vocational training. Visit the PEF’s website for more. 

Clark County School District (CCSD) receives early childhood literacy grant CCSD received a $10 million grant from the state’s Early Childhood Innovation Literacy Program which it plans to use to improve literacy and readiness for children under 6 years of age. Some target areas include implementing a high-quality pre-K literacy and language skills program and providing teachers with high-quality professional learning to equip educators with the necessary tools to build a strong literacy foundation for students. 

School Spotlight

Teacher who left district to start her own preschool one of two early educators of the year

Bethany Johnson’s journey to the teaching profession was a bit unconventional. 

Prior to becoming a preschool teacher, she worked as a professional dancer performing on cruise ships and other venues. But it was during her side gigs as a nanny and children’s dance instructor that she found her calling. 

“I've always loved working with kids,” she said. 

In 2016, she went through the Alternative Route to Licensure program to become an educator and got her first job in CCSD teaching first and second grade. But her time in the district was short-lived as Johnson felt she didn’t have enough time to adequately serve each of her students with class sizes up to 25 students. 

“It was just a hard experience for me because I loved those kids so much, but I felt like I couldn't give them all they needed,” she said. “There's too many of them and they all needed so much and they all needed such different things, and I just didn't see how I could do that.”

Her frustration pushed her to leave the district in 2020 and open her own preschool, the Bold and Bright Academy, right out of her garage in her southwest Las Vegas home. Her school, licensed as a daycare, offers half-day morning and afternoon classes, and each cohort comes every other day. 

“I love this space. I've converted it on my own and I put so much of my heart into this little classroom,” Johnson said of her garage. 

The garage looks like any other classroom. One area is set up as a reading nook complete with books, a small Mickey Mouse chair and stuffed animals. In one corner, there’s a kitchen playset and costumes for kids to dress up in. 

Another corner has cubbies filled with toys. The walls are decorated with pictures from Dr. Seuss and Curious George books. String lights hang from the ceiling. The garage door is hidden behind white curtains, a detail Johnson said her students noticed only recently. 

“I think they think I sleep in my garage,” she said. 

Johnson has 24 students that are divided between four classes, with each class having up to six kids. Johnson teaches those classes herself alongside an assistant. Last year, she launched an online learning platform for preschoolers and kindergarteners with the help of teacher contractors. The offerings include a Spanish class, a yoga class, a science class and story time. 

“I have a lot of homeschoolers who use it,” Johnson said. “I also have some (parents) who send their kids to preschool and then they use it as a better screen time option to just throw on a class instead of YouTube.” 

In September, Johnson was named one of the two 2023 Nevada Early Educators of Year. The Nevada Department of Education said Johnson is the first in-home provider to be recognized with this award. 

“It's really cool to be able to represent … early childhood educators because I feel like they don't get the recognition that a lot of K-12 teachers do,” Johnson said. “I feel like they're often left behind and seen as babysitters and don’t get the kudos that they deserve.”

In addition to the recognition, Johnson will receive a $500 check and school supplies donation from Lakeshore Learning, a Henderson educational supply store. 

Reading Assignments

District: Postponing start times at Clark County schools could cost up to $145M

The district, which has opposed a change designed to improve teen sleep times, said it could reduce busing to offset new expenses.

Despite in-person learning return, Nevada schools saw continued proficiency loss last year

Data reveals literacy and science performance dropped last school year in more than half of the state’s public schools.

15 applicants vying to lead state charter school agency

The State Public Charter School Authority board is set to consider 15 applicants vying to become the next leader of the agency at its Oct. 3 meeting. 

Have a student or staffer who we should feature in the next edition of School Spotlight? Share your nominations with me at [email protected].

Extra Credit

‘They just tried to scare us’: How anti-abortion centers teach sex ed inside public schools

A story from the Hechinger Report finds that some public health experts are concerned that the curriculum being taught by some anti-abortion groups that work in dozens of school districts across Texas may be misleading and biased. 

Events

🍎State Public Charter School Authority board meeting — Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. 

The agenda includes considering 15 applications for the executive director position. 

🍎State Board of Education meeting — Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. 

The agenda includes reviewing, and possibly approving, draft language on a regulation that could open the door for later school start times, a discussion on the creation of a State Board of Education Student Advisory Committee, information on a Clark County School District reorganization training and a presentation on reading achievement data. 

👩‍🏫Clark County Education Association demonstration — Saturday, Oct. 7 at 8:30 a.m. 

CCEA is holding a march and rally as they continue to push for pay raises in downtown Las Vegas. The march starts at 8:30 a.m. and the rally begins at 10 a.m. 

✏️IndyFest panel on K-12 education and Read by Three — Saturday, Oct. 7 at 1:15 p.m. The Nevada Independent is holding a panel on Saturday during IndyFest titled K-12 Education and Read by Three: Achievement Booster or Poor Policy?” The panel will be moderated by Editor Elizabeth Thompson and feature National Education Association Southern Nevada Chapter President Vicki Kreidel and Rebecca Garcia, administrator of CCSD's largest Facebook parent group. Teachers and students with a valid educational email address can attend the two-day IndyFest event in person for just $20 by entering a promotional code of EDUCDISC on the checkout page or can get a free virtual pass by entering a promo code of EDUCDISC2.

Featured Social Media Post

Advanced Technologies Academy, a Las Vegas magnet public school, celebrates its math department for achieving a math proficiency score of nearly 72 percent for the school, higher than the average math proficiency average in CCSD (19 percent).

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