Virginia Believes in High-Quality PreK: Be a Part of Virginia’s Developing Story

In the first blog post (back in May 2017), we shared this image – communicating the importance of PreK during a critical developmental period in kids’ lives.

Data source: Harvard Center for the Developing Child

We then talked about how quality PreK matters: not only for getting kids Kindergarten-ready, but also setting them on a positive trajectory into adulthood.

Over more than the past year, we’ve been sharing what quality in PreK looks like, look through the lenses of:

Heading into the 2018-2019 school year, Virginia is at an exciting moment in early childhood education. We have a new Governor and First Lady who are big supporters, and they have brought in new leadership to bring more attention to the ECE world. The general assembly just earmarked funds for broadening assessment in interactions, use of evidence-based curricula, and Professional Development in VPI (public preschool) classrooms, as well as kindergarten readiness assessment around the state. We’re entering the 4th and final year of the VPI+ program, which sought to improve access to high-quality PreK slots while also raising quality through improvements to state funded classrooms. Through the process, we have learned a great deal about what quality practices look like and how to build these practices. The goal now is to sustain the great work of VPI+ and help others around the state looking to make similar impacts for young children.

There are important stories to tell about the importance of PreK and the difference it can make in the lives of PreK students, PreK graduates as they embark on elementary school, for instructional staff and leadership, and for entire schools and communities. See for yourself.

Angel: A PreK Success Story

Listen to the story of one child in a VPI+ classroom in Chesterfield County.

Meet Angel, a 4-year-old boy who’s grown in his confidence, his literacy and social-emotional skills, and his love of learning. Hear his engaged and loving mother, Olinda, and his skillful PreK teacher, Crystal, talk about their partnership in supporting Angel’s development. Meet a kindergarten teacher, Sarah, and the school’s principal, Brian, explain how high-quality PreK classrooms matter so much for children like Angel.

What resonates with you about why PreK matters?

Are you a vocal champion for PreK, like Brian?

What features of PreK quality do you notice in Crystal’s classroom (that you may already see or want to see in your own program)?

Showcasing Quality PreK in VA

Do you want to see more quality PreK, I.R.L. (in real life)?

VPI+ is creating a pilot program to facilitate the sharing of high-quality PreK practices in person—by visiting sites for an immersive professional development experience!

This pilot program, known as Showcase PreK in VA, is a unique opportunity for selected VPI+ programs to share promising practices and to foster collaborative learning networks across the Commonwealth.

This is not about “perfection,” it’s about reflection – and creating the opportunity for educators and leaders to engage meaningfully around a promising practice in the same time and space – a logistical challenge that is a real rarity – especially in early childhood. It’s about acknowledging that often, in getting educators together, “the answer is in the room.

Visitors to a Showcase day can expect:

  • A day of interactive professional development experiences (including guided tours and hands-on activities) so they can know, see, do, and reflect on promising practices
  • To hear from program leaders and early childhood teachers about steps they’ve taken to implement and refine practices and conditions that help at risk students thrive
  • Time to plan for implementing relevant elements in their own home programs
  • Access to curated artifacts and resources that clarify practices and provide support for implementation

What Can I Do?

Are you ready to see more, expand your knowledge base, and access more quality PreK resources?

  1. Sign up for Showcase PreK in VA & share with staff and partners!

Consider attending with your team to see promising practices in action. Intended audiences include not only administrators (elementary principals, program leaders, center and elementary, directors, superintendents) but teachers as well. And share with your community partners in private settings. (Good practice is good practice, regardless of the setting!) To learn more and sign up, keep on the lookout for the upcoming Superintendent’s memo. We hope to see you there!

  1. Keep reading (and sharing) our blog posts this fall, which will include rolling out the next, new Professional Development Modules – with embedded video clips of real VPI+ teachers implementing:
  • Math games
  • Early writing activities
  • Self-regulation games

We hope these will help you and teachers have a shared vision about specific teaching practices, what they look like in PreK, and implementation supports to help your teaching teams do the practices more/better.

  1. Join the conversation on Twitter

By using the hashtag #PreKinVA, we can begin to connect and create networks for sharing and learning collectively. We have the opportunity to share our individual professional stories and innovations that move us towards higher-quality PreK practices.

Here’s to a great year: reaching more children like Angel and his family on the quest for school readiness and life skills – and more collaboration across Early Childhood in VA to make that goal a reality!

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