Monday, Feb. 12 marks Shiloh Turner’s first day as Cincinnati Preschool Promise Executive Director. This weekend, Shiloh was a guest on Business Watch, a Sunday morning news segment on Local12 presented by the Cincinnati Business Courier.
During the segment, Shiloh talked with Cincinnati Business Courier Publisher Jamie Smith about her goals for the organization and this year’s progress. Below is a transcript of the conversation.
Jamie Smith: Shiloh, thanks for being here today. I am so excited to have you on here. As a fellow Class 36 Leadership Cincinnati graduate, I’m excited to see how your team’s project developed into reality. Talk about how that happened.
Shiloh: “It goes back more than 5 years, and actually a lot of us were in attendance at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s annual luncheon that was honoring John and Francie Pepper. John got up and spoke so eloquently, as he always does, about not just education, but importantly the quality preschool education. Several of us left the event really inspired and wanted to do something about it. So we sought out the StrivePartnership and talked with Greg Landsman and Emily Lewis about, you know, ‘what we can do in the space?’ They presented a few ideas, and the last idea was the Preschool Promise. We just jumped all over it, not knowing what we were getting into, but we just knew we needed to do something in our community for our kids.”
Jamie: I know Stephanie Byrd has been interim leader for the past year and there has been a lot of progress. Tell me right now, where does CPP stand in terms of enrolling children in this program.
Shiloh: “We have over 1,100 children who are being directly attributed through tuition assistance, but we also have a number of other classrooms that are Step Up to Quality classrooms that are also benefiting those kids. If you think of it as a ripple effect, we are benefiting 1,100 directly with tuition assistance, but others, as well. And that’s just in our first year.”
Jamie: I know tomorrow is your first day. What are your priorities going in?
Shiloh: “I think it’s really important to acknowledge that we have a formal and very strong K-12 system in Cincinnati Public Schools, and I think what we need to do is understand and build a robust, quality preschool system that really enables our kids to enter kindergarten, be successful through K-12 and then ultimately in life.”
Jamie: That’s great. Talk about – I always hate this question but I love asking it. Five years from now, if Cincinnati Preschool Promise has done what it’s supposed to, where do you see Cincinnati?
Shiloh: “Well, first and foremost, I want to make sure to thank Stephanie Byrd for her leadership. She, not only in the last year as interim executive has done a tremendous job, but quite frankly has been a stalwart advocate for early childhood education for the last 15 years. We wouldn’t be here without Stephanie and so, so many other people in the community that are dedicated to this cause.
“With that said, I would love to see all 3 and 4 year olds in our community accessing quality preschool. I’d love to see that robust early childhood provider system. I’d love to see parents and advocates out in the community understanding the importance, and the fact that we made this investment and it was transformational to not only to our children’s lives but to the rest of the future of our city.”
Jamie: That sounds like a great vision. You know, the thing that has impressed me the most from the time we started with this, and as you said even before that with people like John Pepper, it’s been all about collaboration. This is a great example of how our community can fight issues, fight the history to come up with solutions. That’s going to continue, right?
Shiloh: “It was an all hands on deck effort to get it this far, and it will continue to be an all-hands on deck to make sure and ensure success. That’s what our children deserve.”
Jamie: “Thank you so much for being here. Best of luck to you and I can’t wait to hear about how the success is.”