Learning centers achieve ratings

Published 9:43 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

Fuqua School’s Early Learning Center and the area Head Start programs have achieved level 3 with the Virginia Quality Program, a quality rating and improvement system for early childhood education centers.

Dara Tucker, head of lower school, said the Fuqua School Early Learning Center, which houses a total of approximately 30-35 students between the ages of 3 and 4, recently achieved level 3 with the learning center.

She said the Virginia Quality Program reached out to the center to be involved in its agency. Tucker said the program is voluntary, meaning that the center chose to take part in the program. She said the center took part in the program at the beginning of the school year.

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To achieve level 3, according to the Virginia Quality website, teachers need to have at least eight hours of training on implementing the program’s curriculum or teaching framework, complete and have on-site document review of the Quality Rating and Improvement System curriculum and assessment checklist among other qualifications.

This would also mean completing steps in levels 1 and 2, which include being in good standing with local and state regulations and having one administrator or director with an associate degree in a relevant field with a minimum of 15 child-related credits or having earned 24 child-related credits from an accredited college.

Tucker said she hopes to complete the top level, level 5, by the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

“The goal for this program is for it to be a resource for local parents or parents moving to the area (or any area in Virginia) with preschool students to find a top quality preschool education,” Tucker said. “Because it’s voluntary, it shows that we are willing to have outside agencies step in and evaluate our program.”

Tucker said the program is a boost for the school, which is open five days a week and has hands-on learning through music, technology nd Spanish, as well as learning numbers and colors.

“This helps us work toward continuing to provide an outstanding academic and social preschool program while also continually striving to make our program better, ensuring the implementation of best practices for teaching and being a place where parents can entrust us with their most precious loved ones,” Tucker said.

Jessica Lehman with STEPS Inc., which operates the Head Start programs in Prince Edward, Amelia, Lunenburg and Charlotte counties, noted that due to the federal regulations the Head Start centers have to undergo to qualify for grants it receives, the Virginia Quality Program automatically places Head Start in level 3.

“It’s a federal Head Start requirement that all Head Starts participate in the quality program for their area,” Lehman said. “All Head Starts automatically come in at a level 3, because as long as you are meeting federal standards and your program isn’t in a deficiency status … all Head Starts are at a level 3 because the federal requirements, the Office of Head Start performance standards are so strict.”

Head Start held a ribbon cutting for its location in Prince Edward at 407 Griffin Blvd. April 26. The location has two Head Start classrooms that serves 34 children between 3-5 years old and two Early Head Start classrooms that serve 16 children between 6 weeks old and 3 years old.