Hap Channell is a San Juan Regional Council member. A community leader in Gunnison, Hap has been on a number of nonprofit boards and was the founding president of the Gunnison Council for the Arts. After retiring from teaching in 2004, he served two terms as a Gunnison County Commissioner.
For decades awareness has been increasing about the importance of early childhood development. Research abounds with data showing the correlation between well designed, positive influences on young children and their ultimate overall success in school and beyond. Attention began to turn to the key components of early childhood development including cognitive, social, emotional and physical, and further research began showing the critical importance of addressing all of these components. Researchers and educators grew their understanding that “school readiness” did not just mean cognitive readiness. Each of these components is vital to a balanced human development, and each is critical to the early stages of childhood development.
El Pomar’s San Juan Regional Council has for several years focused its resources on early childhood programs in our six-county region. Young children, families and educators in Montrose, Delta, Gunnison, Ouray, Hinsdale and San Miguel Counties have benefitted from the council’s awareness. Though not exclusively, much of our attention has been on the Pyramid Model and Colorado’s version of it known as Pyramid Plus. Developed at research and training facilities associated with Vanderbilt University, Pyramid is a framework of evidence-based practices for improving social skills and challenging behaviors in the pre-school population.
The San Juan Regional Council has supported teacher training and coaching in Pyramid and similar principles through organizations in the region such as: Bright Futures, Hilltop Health Services and both the Delta and Gunnison County school districts. In 2015 the council facilitated a meeting of regional early childhood leaders to explore the potential for a collaboration among Pyramid providers. Collectively we asked ourselves if such a collaboration would benefit program delivery, increase the efficiency of funding and improve the effectiveness of fundraising beyond El Pomar. This meeting became a foundation for what the council believes will be a productive collaboration in our region.