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Calabasas Preschool attains highest quality rating – 5 Stars


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  • Dr. Carol Cullen/ Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35

Quality First Has Awarded Calabasas School The Highest Possible Quality Rating For Its Preschool Program, Five Stars. Calabasas Is The Only Preschool Program In Santa Cruz County To Receive This Rating. PreK Student Cadets - David Reyes, Ailani Rodriguez, Alexa Davila, Denisse Nuñez, Carolina Mendoza, Chenille Eriksen, Jose Franco Middle, From Left: Lizzie Z. Menefee (PreK Coordinator). PreK Teachers: Sandra Gallardo, Blanca Lillywhite, Jeneen Treto, Patricia Hernandez, Yulianna Puig, Elda Lopez Back, From Left: Melisa Lunderville (SCVUSD35 Student Services Director), Sam Granillo (Calabasas Assistant Principal), Stephen Schadler (SCVUSD35 Assistant Superintendent), John Hays (SCVUSD35 Governing Board), David Verdugo (SCVUSD35 Superintendent), Francisco Padilla (First Things First Regional Director), Susan Faubion (SCVUSD35 Governing Board), John Fanning (Calabasas Principal). Not In Photo: Graciela Bazzanella (PreK Teacher)

Quality First has awarded Calabasas School the highest possible quality rating for its preschool program, five stars.

Calabasas is the only preschool program in Santa Cruz County to receive this rating.

Quality First, a signature program of First Things First, collaborates with regulated child care and preschool providers to improve the quality of early learning across Arizona.

Research has shown that children with access to high-quality early learning programs are better prepared for kindergarten, do better in school, and are more likely to graduate and go on to college.

Quality First participating providers work with a coach to assess their programs and implement quality improvement plans in areas that research shows help young kids thrive.

After about one year of participation, programs are rated on a 5-star scale based on how well they meet quality standards; a rating of 5 stars means the program far exceeds quality standards.

Areas assessed include:

  • Health and safety practices that promote children’s basic well-being;
  • Staff qualifications, including experience working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers as well as training or college coursework in early childhood development and education;
  • Teacher-child interactions that are positive, consistent and nurture healthy development and learning;
  • Learning environments, including age-appropriate books, toys and learning materials that promote emotional, social, language and cognitive development;
  • Lessons that follow state requirements or recommendations for infants, toddlers and preschoolers;
  • Group sizes that give young children the individual attention they need; and,
  • Child assessment and parent communication that keeps families regularly informed of their child’s development.

“Our District has always been committed to providing quality early childhood education to the children and families of our community,” said Student Services Director, Melisa Lunderville.   “I am so proud of our staff and students for accomplishing our goal of being a 5 star program.”

Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 is a growing, dynamic school district covering approximately 267 square miles. The district operates five schools. Approximately 3,500 students are enrolled during the 2017-2018 school year.

About Quality First – Quality First – a signature program of First Things First – partners with regulated early childhood providers to make quality improvements that research proves help children birth to 5 thrive, such as education for teachers to expand their expertise in working with young children. It also supports parents with information about what to look for in quality early childhood programs that goes beyond health and safety to include a nurturing environment that supports their child’s learning.

 About First Things First – First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, visit azftf.gov.