MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The EdVenture Group, a Morgantown nonprofit that provides educational outreach across the region, has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will hone its focus from the classroom to the kitchen table.

Lydotta Taylor, EdVenture’s CEO, said the $4.8 million offering will help establish the West Virginia Family Engagement Center.

Like its name, Taylor said the center’s goal is to simply engage parents and other caregivers — so the youngsters in their households can survive and thrive in school.

Taylor, a former classroom teacher, said the center will be a collaborative effort between her organization, the U.S. Department of Education, West Virginia University and the West Virginia Department of Education.

“It’s not easy being a parent these days,” she said, “but no matter where families are or what they look like, this center is going to have the resources they need.”

“As individual students are bolstered,” she said, “so too are West Virginia’s lower-performing schools, which will also benefit from the report card improvement.

Steven Paine, West Virginia superintendent of schools, agreed, saying he likes the width and breadth of the net that will be cast by the center.

“Research tells us that family engagement in schools improves student engagement, reduces absenteeism and improves student behavior,” the superintendent said.

Taylor used to see that in her own classrooms and at her own kitchen table.

As a young mom, she read to her children nightly at home.

“In her classrooms during the day, she encouraged her students to read — and not just because it was a classroom requirement.

“There really is nothing like a good book,” she said.

“I would tell my students that all the time, and I was a math and science teacher.”

Story by Jim Bissett

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