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Pre-K 4 SA Provides Parent Training to Help Build a Foundation for the Future

Pre-K 4 SA continues to share the value of early childhood learning by offering parents more resources about the importance of a high-quality education.

Pre-K 4 SA is known for its work with young children. However, it isn’t only young children who benefit from its high-quality programing. Pre-K 4 SA also works with adults by providing over 10,000 hours per year of professional learning for educators who teach young children, and created a partnership designed to extend programs to parents.

Most recently, the City of San Antonio Head Start program and Pre-K 4 SA joined to offer parents a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA). This program provides parents the ability to enter the early education field and excel as their child’s first teacher before he or she enters a formal kindergarten program.

A CDA credential provides the education and the necessary training to ensure an assistant teacher is well prepared to deliver high-quality instruction. High CDA program costs make this credential unattainable for many, but Pre-K 4 SA is providing access to more parents and educators within the community. Pre-K 4 SA provides the hands-on course instruction delivered by Ashley Orihel, professional learning specialist at Pre-K 4 SA.

In the first class of the CDA program offered by Pre-K 4 SA, Ashley led a group of 12 dedicated parents. The participants received 120 hours of instruction and reviewed numerous topics, from classroom safety to all of the areas of a child’s physical, emotional, and behavioral development. Additional classes covered the creation of a professional portfolio with a strong emphasis on essay writing.

In addition to curriculum instruction, parents were required to work as volunteers in a classroom setting for 480 hours throughout the five-month program. Many enjoyed the hands-on experience so much that they exceeded the minimum number of hours needed to earn the credential, despite having other jobs and family responsibilities.

Ashley dedicated her time to building relationships with each parent, addressing concerns and challenging them to gain a better understanding of the value and importance of early childhood education.

Pre-K 4 SA recognizes parents as critical educational assets because they’re their child’s first and most important teacher. Pre-K 4 SA believes every child deserves a high-quality education that begins with parents, regardless of the family’s education or economic limitations.

“[The CDA program] is one of the most powerful things I’ve experienced since being at Pre-K 4 SA,” said Orihel. “The impact this program has had on the workforce in San Antonio is just amazing.”

Parents who received the CDA credential gained professional skills to make them more marketable in the early childhood education field. Before the completion of the program, four parents were offered a full-time substitute position, and one of them began a position at Stafford Early Childhood Center.

“There were many positive outcomes from taking this high-quality CDA program,” said Demetria Keys, a parent and program participant. “I was hired as a substitute teacher at the same school I was taking the class. The doors just opened up to many things.”

The interactive and intensive CDA program offers its alumni more than curriculum and instructional opportunities; it builds leadership skills and confidence. One parent currently sits on the policy council for Head Start, another is a PTA vice president, and one is a director of children’s ministry at a local church, while others host community events at local schools.

“Originally, I was interested in the course to get more information about my kids,” said Vanessa Bermudez, a parent and program participant. “Both of my children have developmental differences, so I took this class to help me understand them better.”

Due to the success of the first cohort, the City of San Antonio Head Start and Pre-K 4 SA are planning to have two cohorts at the same time—at no cost—for the 2019-2020 academic year. One class is scheduled to be held at Edgewood ISD, and the other at San Antonio ISD. Alumni from the first cohort have volunteered to share their own impactful experience with the next group of participants.

The CDA program was designed to align with Pre-K 4 SA’s mission to change the educational and workforce trajectories in San Antonio in one generation. Pre-K 4 SA is glad to take part in contributing to early childhood education today and will continue to do so in the years to come.

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