SALISBURY — Rowan County is one of 10 school districts in the state selected for the ApSeed Early Childhood Education program for 2023-24.

In 2022, the state legislature appropriated $2.5 million to ApSeed, allowing the organization to provide their unique Seedling Touchpads and training materials to disadvantaged children. The goal is to improve assessment outcomes for children entering kindergarten, specifically to improve each child’s knowledge of shapes, colors, numbers and letters.

Dr. Lynn Moody, retired Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ superintendent, was instrumental in ApSeed’s start-up. Moody now lives in New Hanover County and initiated their partnership with ApSeed.

“Watching ApSeed since the beginning, I have seen how their business approach to early education can now be repeated across the state” says Moody.

Over the last four months, school districts were interviewed and vetted by the ApSeed team. Qualification criteria focused on commitment to Pre-K education and organizational structure.

“We are very excited to be selected” says Dr. Eisa Cox, superintendent of Ashe County Schools. “This means more resources to help our children become kindergarten-ready” she added.

The other nine selected school districts are Buncombe, Ashe, Yadkin, Davie, Lexington, Granville, Duplin, New Hanover and Iredell. These districts represent over 10,000 children who will be entered into ApSeed’s two-year program.

“We have an ongoing relationship with ApSeed, so we know the value already” says Jerri Hunt, director of federal programs at Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

ApSeed, a non-profit, has operated on private funding since 2016. The organization will now launch an 18-month program deploying the Seedling Touchpads and providing resource teachers in each district. More than 30 ApSeed representatives will be supporting the distribution and maintenance of the touchpads. Most importantly, they will support enrollment and assessments to measure kindergarten-readiness for each district. ApSeed has issued over 15,000 Seedling Touchpads in North and South Carolina, New York City and Zimbabwe. The touchpad has 16 applications for learning shapes, colors, numbers and letters. ApSeed’s proprietary Seedling is designed exclusively for use by 3- and 4-year-old children. Primary distribution channels include NC Pre-K/Smart Start, Title 1, Head Start, private daycares, Women, Infant and Children (W.I.C.) programs and pediatric clinics. Assessments are performed frequently and track progress by child and by district.