Home > PUM One on One: Carol Barone-Martin, Executive Director of Childhood Education at PPS

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PUM One on One: Carol Barone-Martin, Executive Director for Early Childhood Education at the Pittsburgh Public School District


Carol Barone-Martin is the Executive Director for Early Childhood Education at the Pittsburgh Public School District. She has been in this role for the past 15 years.  Previously, Carol was the Executive Director for a non-profit child care and professional development organization, a child and adolescent therapist, a parent and community engagement specialist and a preschool teacher. Carol has her B.S. and M.S. in Child Development as well as a PA teaching certification and a PA supervisor certification in early childhood education.

PUM: Tell us more about your primary focus as the Executive Director of Childhood Education at PPS.

Carol Barone-Martin:  My primary focus is to provide a high-quality early childhood program to as many children in Pittsburgh as possible so that they can be prepared for Kindergarten and have the skills and dispositions needed for success in their entire academic career.

PUM:  You have been in this role for the past 15 years, what are you most proud in terms of what you have been able to accomplish?

Carol Barone-Martin: I am most proud of the outcomes of the children that have completed the program. We can see from our data as well as what the Kindergarten teachers and principals tell us, that the children are well prepared for Kindergarten. I am also very proud of the growth in the program in the time that I have been in this role.  We have doubled the number of children that we serve over the last 15 years.  In addition to the children that we serve in our school district programs, we also work with child care agencies to support and improve their practices.

PUM: In the pursuit of making sure every child, at every level of academic performance can achieve excellence, what programs do you provide to help ensure the success of each student. What makes these programs successful?

Carol Barone-Martin:  Our program is geared to meet the needs of varying levels of academic performance.  In the classrooms, there are children from 3 to 5 years of age with varying abilities.  The curriculum is geared to address the variety of skills through whole group, small group and individualized instruction and activities.  We have children that have special needs, English Language Learners and children that are using kindergarten-level materials all being successful in the same classrooms. Teachers keep data to ensure that children are meeting their goals.

In addition to the children that we serve in PPS classrooms, we also partner with high-quality child care centers and provide support for their practices.  As part of this partnership, we provide the child care center with a coach, professional development, and curriculum and resources for classroom instruction.

PUM: Research shows that attending preschool helps students succeed later in their academic careers. From your perspective why is preschool imperative?

Carol Barone-Martin:  We are able to see how the students grow during their time in our program.  Using our assessment data, we can see that there is an average of 65% improvement for children in the time they are in our program in literacy, math, scientific thinking, social studies, physical development, social-emotional development and the arts. We also hear anecdotally from parents, principals and kindergarten teachers about the positive effect of our program on the children that have gone onto Kindergarten.

PUM: How specifically is PPS preschools helping to prepare our region’s youngest learners?

Carol Barone-Martin: Our goal is to help children to learn the skills that will help them to succeed in Kindergarten and throughout their academic career.  This includes literacy, math and other academic skills as well as dispositions that will help them to succeed in school such as a positive approach to learning, self-control, persistence, and interpersonal skills. What sort of research do you have or results that demonstrate the success? We collect data using our assessments (the Work Sampling System and the Scholastic Early Childhood Inventory (SECI) on the children.  We did have a research study completed by Westat that indicted that children that were in our program were more successful in kindergarten and first grade in literacy and math than those who did not.  This was also true for economically disadvantaged children as well as minority children. Do you have some current stats on how many students may not have access to early childhood learning? According to a report released in 2017 by the American Federation of teachers and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, nearly 25% of the children in the city of Pittsburgh do not have access to pre-k programs.

PUM: In the classroom how do you prepare teachers at PPS to be better, as it relates to best practices?

Carol Barone-Martin:  Our teaching staff enters the job with outstanding credentials.   All of our teachers are certified in Early Childhood Education, and all of our paraprofessionals have a CDA, Associates degree or the equivalent.  Approximately 50% of the teachers have master’s degrees. Once a teacher is hired he/she is enrolled in a teacher induction program that prepares them for their position in the Early Childhood Program at PPS. All teachers receive ongoing professional development.  In addition to the professional development sessions, each teacher has a coach that reinforces the learning from the professional development session as well as supports the individual teacher’s needs. As we introduced a new curriculum this year, each teacher also received a coach from the curriculum company to work with him/her over a two-year period while the teacher became acclimated to the curriculum.

PUM: You serve on the city of Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Education Task Force, how has this taskforce helped to create a Pre-k implementation program?

Carol Barone-Martin: The City of Pittsburgh Early Education Task Force was established with the broad goal of expanding Pre-K throughout the city. Pittsburgh is now working to expand access to high quality early learning by investing in the early learning workforce, increasing the quantity and quality of available early learning seats, and addressing multiple systemic barriers that have undermined learning and quality of life for Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable children. The implementation plan is in draft form and will guide the work of Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Education Task Force once it is approved.

PUM: What can we expect in the next year as it relates to the growth of these programs in PPS? What are some of your specific goals?

Carol Barone-Martin:  We have started a program, Little Dreamers, for rising Kindergarten students for this summer. This will follow the format of Summer Dreamers and will enable the children to receive six weeks of enrichment before Kindergarten.

We are very excited about the new classroom that will be opening at the Carnegie Science Center for the upcoming school year.  The children that attend there will have the opportunity to use the science center on a daily basis.  In addition, a group of teachers will be working with the science center to add additional science activities into our curriculum.  These activities will be utilized throughout the early childhood program. We are working closely with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to study the way that children learn in the Early Childhood classroom and how they learn in the Museum.  We are sharing this learning to influence the work of both the classroom and the museum.

PUM: What do you enjoy most about your role at PPS?

Carol Barone-Martin: I truly enjoy interacting with the children and seeing how their minds work as they are learning new concepts. My job also allows me to be creative in planning, problem-solving and moving the program forward to reach my goals.

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