Meet Nell Carvell
My journey with LEAP Into School!® began in 1993, the year I walked into my first Head Start classroom in Dallas. For almost 30 years, I taught all ages and types of learners—youngsters to adult, classroom to individual, and typical learner to the learning disabled. In 1990, the Texas Instruments Foundation asked me to visit one of their beneficiary Head Start sites to evaluate why their preschool children continued to perform poorly in kindergarten testing. They believed it was due to a lack of “phonics” instruction for 4 year-olds, but I found it was so much more.
My first visit was “life changing.” I quickly realized these children did not have a learning disability or just a lack of “phonics”—but an environmental disability. With few books and no alphabet materials or experiences with nursery rhymes, these children were deprived of the very experiences that would prepare them for academic success in kindergarten and beyond.
I joined the education program at Southern Methodist University and for two years I wrote lessons with feedback from preschool teachers. From those ten committed teachers with their 93 children, we were able to create a program that within two years raised their kindergarten ITBS test scores 40-50 percentile points. We saw similar results as the program was adopted by the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). That success continued for many years and I couldn’t have been happier.
I continued to work with these teachers for 13 years. Through their dedication and the hard work and support of others, the program expanded to seven states and educated tens of thousands of children. From Kentucky to California, enthusiastic reports of children’s success came from teachers and administrators, alike.
Today Brattle Publishing Group is releasing a revised edition of LEAP Into School!® This new program is full color with photos and images that illustrate concepts and activities. It has 40 weeks of instruction, literature, manipulatives, a new Learning At Home book, and even an interactive app for your tablets or whiteboards. And now that states have begun to focus on pre-k and set pre-k standards, LEAP Into School!® addresses these new learning goals.
Nell Carvell, M.A. C.A.L.T.