MINNEAPOLIS — There's a special place in her heart for the kids Cassaundra Davis works with.
"They mean everything to me. I treat them as if they’re one of my own children and I say that to the parents too – as long as they’re here and they’re with me, they’re safe," Cassaundra says.
Cassaundra is the Program Director for the Children's First Early Learning Center in North Minneapolis. The school, run by The Family Partnership, is a preschool that gets kids ready for kindergarten. All of the kids who attend the school are living below the poverty line.
"We’re unique because we don’t just start and stop with the child – we service the entire family. We really feel that family support is really what the child needs - it’s not so much the individual child because they are young children, but if we can give that family the support that they need it makes all the difference for a child being able to learn," Cassaundra says.
Cassaundra says 94% of kids graduating from the preschool are considered "kindergarten-ready". That's compared, she says, to 30% of other children living at the same income level.
"I just want to do my part to make sure that I give back to a community that’s similar to a community that I grew up in and make sure they have what they need to be successful," Cassaundra says. "You can grow up and be anything you want to be as long as you put your mind to it."
The school recently opened a new infant room and now has spots for kids as young as six weeks old.