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Dayton appoints two area women to state education council

WILLMAR -- Two area women are among 22 people named to the state's new Early Learning Council that will provide direction to Minnesota's federal Race to the Top Early Childhood grant application.

The grant could potentially bring $50 million to Minnesota to improve the quality of Early Childhood in Minnesota and reduce the education achievement gap.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Sara Carlson of Willmar and Donna Henning of Redwood Falls to the Early Learning Council, which he established by executive order in March as part of his commitment to make quality early childhood education a high priority.

The Early Learning Council will be responsible for advising the governor, the Children's Cabinet and the Legislature on how to increase access to high-quality state and federal early childhood care and education programs.

Carlson has more than 17 years of experience in the early care and education field. She is currently serving as a program officer with the Southwest Initiative Foundation in Hutchinson.

Henning has worked for Heartland Community Action Head Start program for the last 11 years and early childhood for more than 20 years. She currently is the education manager at Heartland Community Action Agency.

In a press release, Dayton praised the members of the council.

"Minnesota's future success depends upon building an education system that gives every child the chance to succeed," the release states. "By starting early we can lay a strong foundation to ensure every learner has the tools to excel in the classroom, in our communities, and in life."