First 5 Lex Partner Spotlight: KET

We are in the midst of a new blog series to show appreciation for our community partners and supporters! Today, we get to TALK with Amanda Wright, the Director for Early Childhood Education at Kentucky Educational Television (KET).


All photos taken prior to Covid-19 restrictions.


We all know KET for their television programming, but they have so much more to offer, including educational resources for children and adults. Several parents are currently working from home, so KET has stepped up to the plate and provided the community with At-Home Learning resources and PBS LearningMedia. There are also additional materials to facilitate learning, such as the PBS Kids apps, which have been evaluated to ensure children are learning as they are watching or playing. If you’d like to learn more about KET’s educational resources, click here.


Let’s learn more about KET in our question and answer session with Amanda!


Can you tell us about KET’s community outreach? What role has your organization played across the Commonwealth?

We are a statewide network, so we serve the entire state of Kentucky. We provide support and professional development for teachers, organize family engagement activities and do anything in between. Within KET’s Education department, we have several smaller departments: early childhood, K-12 and adult education.


We received the Ready to Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This allowed us to create some resources for our early childhood providers and families that were piloted specifically in eastern Kentucky and Louisville. However, as we’re nearing the end of that grant, our work is now available to educators and families across the state. We also have our Everyday Learning collection, a resource that was created with Kentucky’s early childhood standards in mind. Its purpose is to encourage educators to introduce a topic using a short, high-quality video and then provide hands-on activities, books and discussion questions. We encourage families to use these resources as well!


Can you tell us about your Early Childhood Education programs?

We do a lot of professional development for teachers. With the pandemic, we’ve transitioned a lot of our face-to-face workshops and trainings to a virtual platform. We do a lot of outreach too, because we really want families to know about the resources PBS Kids and KET have created. Most people see what’s airing on KET, but don’t realize all of the other great resources that are available to them online. We offer several free, educational PBS Kids apps that can be used without an internet connection.


What other kinds of programming do you provide for children and families?

In normal times, we would do a lot of outreach and events. We work with local libraries with their family nights or back-to-school nights by providing activities, handouts and samples in order to let the kids get some hands-on interaction.


We also send out e-newsletters and have the PBS Kids parents’ website, which is a fantastic resource if you’re looking for more information. If your kids are particularly interested in a PBS Kids program, they can get more activities and information about that program. If a parent has a concern or want to talk about current events with their children, the PBS Kids website is really responsive and up-to-date on current events.


How long has your organization been part of the First 5 community team?

We’ve been involved since the very beginning! In fact, we joined before we even had a name for First 5 Lex. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with First 5 over the years and believe that working together as a team can have a big impact on our community and state. And that’s another important thing - the work we put into First 5 raises the level and quality of school success and school readiness across the state. The primary focus is Lexington, but we get to share what’s happening with First 5 Lex across the state because KET is a state agency.


Why was partnering with First 5 Lex a logical fit for your organization?

Some of KET’s top priorities are kindergarten readiness and school success. It’s a natural fit for us to be working with First 5 Lex because that is their driving factor. Also, we know that KET and PBS Kids have so many good resources to share and First 5 Lex is a great platform to help get those resources out to Lexington families.


Why do you think the First 5 message- to read, talk, and play with little ones each day- is so important?

I think that families don’t always realize that there are very simple, easy things they can be doing at home to help get their kids ready for kindergarten. You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on toys and educational materials. It’s really just those basic things like talking with your child or telling them what you’re doing as you’re preparing a meal or changing their diaper. It’s also about playing with your kids.


In your opinion, what positive change has First 5 Lex made in the community?

The level of awareness about kindergarten readiness that First 5 Lex has brought to the community is so important. Families and educators understand that importance, but sometimes our business community doesn’t really consider that the community also plays a role.


How do you hope to continue to partner with First 5 in the future?

We want to continue to partner any way we can. There are always going to be new families and new parents and we can always help get that word out about the importance of kindergarten readiness through reading, talking and playing with your children.


Just for fun:

What is your favorite children’s book to READ?

My favorite books are whatever my kids happen to be reading at the moment! It’s really important for me to be involved in reading with my kids, so I make an effort to read with them on a regular basis. My daughter, who is in 3rd grade, is currently reading the Zoey and Sassafras series. My son, who is in 6th grade, really enjoys graphic novels.


If you have an afternoon with nothing scheduled, how would you PLAY?

I like to be outside. One my family’s favorite things to do together is go on walks and take our boston terrier with us.


If you could TALK with one person, from the past or present, who would it be, and what would you ask them?

For me, it’s really important to stay connected to my friends and family, especially during the current state of affairs. It’s important for moms to talk to other moms and provide encouragement. I wouldn’t talk with anyone famous or anything, just my family and friends.


Thank you to Amanda and everybody at KET who is making a difference in the lives of children in Lexington and beyond!

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