Prescott Unified School District’s Discovery Gardens Preschool was recently awarded a $143,000 grant by the Arizona Department of Education. This grant will help the district’s Quality First accredited preschool grow by 30 additional 4-year-old students this coming school year.
According to Discovery Gardens Director, Stacy Williams, the grant helps pay for staff and supplies to provide free preschool to qualifying students.
“We are thrilled to have been awarded this funding and provide quality preschool for more students,” Williams said.
Discovery Gardens is a tuition-based preschool for students age 2 years and 10 months to those preparing to enter kindergarten. In addition to the new grant providing more families with access to preschool, Discovery Gardens provides other scholarships through its accreditation by First Things First’s Quality First program and the generous donations of community members.
“We have an incredible staff of certified teachers and paraprofessionals,” Williams said. “Our classrooms are inclusive and designed to meet the learning needs of every student we serve.”
Williams, who holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and master’s in early childhood education, has been with Discovery Gardens for 12 years, serving as director since 2012. Her staff includes professionals trained to provide special education services as well as therapeutic and health professionals provided through PUSD.
Sandy DeKemper, a longtime paraprofessional who now volunteers at Discovery Gardens, was very excited to hear about the new grant. DeKemper, who sends her grandchild to the preschool, called it, “the best in town.”
“I wouldn’t send them anywhere else,” she said with a big a smile. DeKemper also encourages any interested parents to schedule a visit to Discovery Gardens.
Paul Katan, PUSD’s Federal Programs Director and Grant Writer, worked with Williams to secure the funding. According to Katan, “this funding was previously unavailable in Yavapai County, and we are very lucky to have it.”
He went on to explain how PUSD receiving this grant now makes scholarships available to Yavapai County residents who have begun working and learning about early childhood education. Katan said, “In addition to serving more 4-year-olds at Discovery Gardens, the Preschool Development Grant has a scholarship program that pays tuition, books and fees for folks wanting to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in early childhood education.”
He added, “The grant is great for Discovery Gardens and for aspiring early childhood educators throughout Yavapai County.”
For more information or to schedule a visit to Discovery Gardens, call 928-442-1283 or visit prescottschools.com. For more information about the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), email firstname.lastname@example.org. And, for information about the PDG Scholarships for early childhood education, call 855-818-6613 or email email@example.com.
CAPTURING KIDS HEARTS
Prescott Mile High Middle School will be supporting Capturing Kids Hearts for its learning community in the upcoming school year.
The program – a creation of the Flippen Group, a leadership consulting group based in College Station, Texas – pushes several simple but purposeful directives. Teachers are expected to be outside their doors during class switches and to give handshakes, fist pumps and/or audible greetings as students enter class. A few times a week as class begins, teachers ask students to volunteer “something good” that is happening in their lives. This is a step instructors say has prompted students to open up beyond what they could ever have expected.
Mile High Middle School leaders and staff dedicated a considerable amount of time researching institutions that have been successful in improving attendance, decreasing discipline referrals, remaining focused on academics and providing a positive culture focused on children. It was discovered that many are Capturing Kids Hearts schools that unify their efforts to provide a safe environment where all have the opportunity to learn and grow.
Mile High is excited to provide Capturing Kids Hearts, as it has always been dedicated to supporting the district mission of “Every Kid, Every Day.” But having a unified process – made possible through the extremely generous financial support provided by the James Family Foundation and Kiwanis Club of Prescott – will ensure that children have the chance to flourish in a community grounded in love and respect for all.