Our Children, Our Future

Our Children, Our Future is building support networks in Mercer County for organizations and individuals interested in quality early education.

Keystone STARS

In celebration the Mercer County LEARN Team had five children nominated as Shining Stars by parents, teachers, and sometimes, themselves. Mercer County Commissioner, Matt McConnell recognized the county's Shining Stars during the annual Kids Fest celebration on April 14 th at the Shenango Valley Mall. Children nominated as Shining Stars were enrolled for at least six months in a Keystone STARS program with a STAR 2, 3 or 4 rating. Parents, teachers and children wrote essays explaining why each child is a Shining Star and how participating in a Keystone STARS program made in their lives.

It is really refreshing to celebrate the achievements of some of the wonderful young people in our community. Congratulations to Mercer County's Keystone Shining Stars: Peyton M. (Creative Preschool & Day Care, Sharpsville), Rachel B. (Children's Aid Society child care, Mercer), Allen-Mychael Zion Education Center PA Pre-K Counts, Sharon), and from Kids Korner Children's Center, Greenville both Natalee L. and Symira F. Read more about them.

Early Childhood Council Q & A

Early Learning Resources for Children & Families in Mercer County

Mercer County's Early Childhood Local Education and Resource Network (LEARN) Team

Our vision since 2003: As a result of accessible, quality early care and education experiences all children in Mercer County will have the opportunity to enter kindergarten ready to learn, and then become successful students.

The work of Our Children, Our Future is led by three Action Teams that together are Mercer County's local, grassroots connection between families and the resources they seek in promoting and supporting personal responsibility and choice for all Pennsylvania families around quality early learning opportunities.

  • School Readiness - To promote school readiness and smoother transitions into early learning settings for all children
  • Child Care - To improve the quality and accessibility of child care in Mercer County
  • Early Childhood Outreach - To promote access to quality early childhood education for all children and engage families in making good early learning choices for their children.

At the community level our work is carried out through Early Childhood Councils in these school districts: Commodore Perry, Farrell, Greenville, Grove City, Hermitage, Jamestown, Mercer, Sharon, and Sharpsville.

Our Children, Our Future brings together early childhood programs, parents, school districts, business leaders, policymakers, and child-serving organizations to assess what early childhood education programs are currently available in the community and to develop ways to encourage quality early learning for children birth to age 8 years.

This initiative is funded by a grant from Pennsylvania's Office of Child Development and Early Learning and is therefore Mercer County's Local Education and Resource Network (LEARN) team. The goals of Pennsylvania LEARN teams for 2011-2012 are:

    • Effectively communicate with and engage families: a) Assist families to act as their child's first educator, with information about child development and appropriate early learning activities, aligned with the early learning standards; b) Help families make good early learning choices for their children, while building family demand for quality early education; and c) Support families to take action on behalf of their children.
    • Provide support to families with a child transitioning into an early learning setting or those with children entering kindergarten.
    • Act as a resource for early childhood education to promote OCDEL programs, such as Keystone STARS, through activities such as early learning events, early learning activities and/or other programs within a community which focus on quality early education programs and access to early learning opportunities.

    All interested persons are invited to join a team and/or an Early Childhood Council. The Mercer County Board of Commissioners supports this work as grantee. OCOF project director is Frasier B. Zahniser, M.Ed., extension educator with Penn State Extension in Mercer County.

    Our Children, Our Future c/o Penn State Cooperative Extension in Mercer County PO Box 530 Mercer, PA 16137-0530 724-662-3142

    Our Children, Our Future Early Childhood Community Engagement Mercer County, PA