Pre-K 4 SA Fiesta Medal + Coloring Pages!

a hand holds a Pre-K 4 SA Fiesta medal

Happy Fiesta from Pre-K 4 SA! This year’s Fiesta San Antonio medal is particularly special to us because it showcases our newest addition to the Pre-K 4 SA family: 3-year-olds. Enjoy these coloring pages featuring the design.

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Give Kudos Where Kudos is Due

an educator sticks a piece of paper on a board that says "optimistic!"

Pre-K 4 SA always wants to recognize our team’s success, achievements and efforts, so we created a space for the team to give kudos to someone they believe is going above and beyond.

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How Pre-K 4 SA is helping the Child Care Shortage in San Antonio

Teacher and Two Students at Pre-K 4 SA

When Covid-19 shut the world down, millions of families no longer had a Child Care Center open to care for their children. As a result, many families turned to smaller, private family child care providers for assistance. Family child care providers already outnumbered Child Development Centers in the number of children served, and in the shadows of shelter in place, social distancing, and quarantine, they rose to the challenges facing the entire world by keeping their doors open for even more children.

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Pre-K 4 SA Becomes a CDA Gold Standard Recipient

A Pre-K 4 SA Staff Member welcomes young children to the facility

We are proud to announce that Pre-K 4 SA’s Professional Learning Department has been granted the prestigious CDA Gold Standard designation.

Professional Learning provides educators with high-quality support and credentialing programs so they can in turn provide a high-quality early education. This nationally recognized CDA designation serves as validation of the work Pre-K 4 SA does to deliver on the promise of creating positive systemic change.

“I was proud to have our CDA program nationally recognized for its high-quality,” said Kristina Herrera, Pre-K 4 SA assistant director of professional learning. “We are motivated to increase the quality of all early childhood programs throughout San Antonio, and the CDA is one way we are building staff qualifications in child care centers and programs.”

The CDA Gold Standard is part of the Council for Professional Recognition early childhood education effort to help CDA students find the high-quality training and student services they need in preparation for the CDA exam and a career as an early childhood educator. Having a CDA doesn’t just help educators bring out the best in children. Its purpose is to expand the knowledge base, experience, and quality of early childhood educators and is meant to be a stepping stone on the path of career advancement in education.

Earning the CDA Gold Standard is recognition that Pre-K 4 SA successfully demonstrates that its early childhood education training is based on the Council’s three industry-leading principles of 1) Alignment with the CDA formal education coursework found in the CDA’s Eight Subject areas, 2) Sound business policies and practices, and 3) Quality student services that meet their educational and professional needs.

In addition to offering high-quality training, Pre-K 4 SA demonstrates evidence that they serve the CDA student community with excellence, which includes professional development that prepares students for successful completion of their training program.

Pre-K 4 SA’s CDA credentialing program is dedicated to working with all of its participants to ensure everyone is prepared to pass the CDA exam and begin a successful career in high-quality early education. Therefore, Pre-K 4 SA provides the following for all participants:

  • Training-120 hours of professional education with a Professional Learning Specialist;
  • Materials-Use of the CDA textbooks while enrolled in the program;
  • Support- Assistance with Professional Portfolio creation, selection of a Professional Development Specialist, and test/observation registration.

Recently reauthorized Pre-K 4 SA is determined to strengthen San Antonio’s early learning infrastructure to create an equitable, affordable, high-quality early learning and care system for young children for the next eight years. With the CDA Gold Standard program, the Pre-K 4 SA Professional Learning team will continue increasing the number of qualified early learning educators throughout San Antonio.

To find out more about Pre-K 4 SA CDA program and its requirements, you can join KickUp to gain access and register for the CDA sessions, click here. Or, reach out to Kristina.herrera@sanantonio.gov if you have additional questions.

Wolf Trap Techniques Engage Children through the Arts

Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning

Over the past 30 years, creativity and the arts have been systematically removed from the core K-12 education system.

However, according to the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, “integrating the performing arts into early childhood education is a highly effective way for young children to learn and for early childhood educators to teach.”

The Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning is a program developed by the Wolf Trap Foundation and is funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It uses art-based techniques to improve the foundation for all sciences, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

In 2016, theArtsFund became an affiliate of the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning. That same year, Pre-K 4 SA became a partner and hosted 10 artist residencies and training sessions. Residencies are defined time periods during which artists from an array of arts backgrounds use their artistic fortes to provide teachers with creative tools to incorporate the arts into their curriculum. Pre-K 4 SA quickly began to implement these learning models into the classroom, which resonated well with its “learn through play” curriculum.

A new Wolf Trap pilot program will begin at Pre-K 4 SA in February 2020 and will last for a total of eight weeks. The pilot program will focus on the following growths: reflection time for staff and resident artists, variety in the techniques used, and teacher support upon the completion of the residency.

Jessica Ambris, a Pre-K 4 SA teacher and Dr. Aurelia Rocha, a San Antonio Wolf Trap teaching artist, have been collaborating and refining the Wolf Trap program at Pre-K 4 SA for the past six months. Together they recognized that a vital aspect of the program should create a culture of professional dialogue and collegiality around new ideas and prior experience.

Since Wolf Trap has residencies from all artistic backgrounds, the teaching techniques will likely differ according to the artist’s talent. For example, a dancer will use dance and body movements to help children understand a concept, while a musician will use an instrument and music to teach children. With that in mind, there is much depth and versatility to using the arts in the classrooms.

“As a teacher, I’ve learned from one of our drama residencies and applied some of the techniques in my own instruction. My class was interested in learning the difference between frogs and toads. Using the imaginary costume closet, I remember the children were engaged as they acted out as if they were changing into either a frog or a toad,” said Ambris. “They would pretend to become their character by imagining specific traits such as smooth or bumpy skin. By using their imagination, children were able to apply what they had learned and really understand the differences between the two.”

Prior to this new pilot program, only one resident artist was assigned to one teacher and his or her classroom. Now, one resident artist will be in one classroom but teaching a cohort of five teachers. The training will last for nine weeks with a total of 21 sessions. Thereafter, there will be a 75-minute reflection time which will give time for teachers and resident artists to discuss and plan for the week. Then teachers will go into their own classrooms and implement the Wolf Trap strategies they are acquiring on a weekly basis.

Each week, all participating teachers will have the opportunity to share what is working for them and at the same time, share what has not been effective. As teachers come together and build this commonality, they will share ideas to build their artistic skills to deliver the lesson to their classrooms.

Using the arts to teach a curriculum should always be engaging and fluid. This new Wolf Trap pilot program will continue to help children use all of their senses to better learn the curriculum. Once the first Wolf Trap pilot program is complete and evaluated at the South Education Center, it will be duplicated into the other Pre-K 4 SA Education Centers.

What if All Children Had Access to Pre-K 4 SA?

A few weeks ago, Julián Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, announced that he’s throwing his hat into the ring for what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic presidential primary field. Announcing his candidacy, Castro said, “Here in San Antonio, I made Pre-K 4 SA happen. As president, I’ll make pre-K for the USA happen!”

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