SPC x First Pre-K 4 SA Grant = Education for the Next Generation

November 29, 2018

Public Information Officer

A ST. PHILIP’S COLLEGE CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER TRANSFORMATION WITH ITS FIRST PRE-K 4 SA GRANT DELIGHTS YOUNG CHILDREN, YOUNG PARENTS AND SAVVY TEACHERS

The grant is one of the first if not the first awarded to a postsecondary institution from Pre-K 4 SA

A St. Philip’s College business unit is enjoying results as one of the first if not the first postsecondary institutions awarded a grant from Pre-K 4 SA, a comprehensive early childhood initiative aimed at changing the education and workforce trajectory of San Antonio in one generation.

Parents, students and children at the only child development center within the Eastside San Antonio 78203 zip code that is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children are delighted over classroom amenities that they can all evaluate as great---thanks to a $34,000 grant from Pre-K 4 SA.

St. Philip’s College Child Development Center team member Monica Guzman leads the college business unit at 2207 E. Wyoming St. in her capacity as center coordinator and a principal investigator for the grant. 

According to Guzman, the two-year grant of $17,000 per year was issued by the Prek 4 SA organization in its Child Development Competitive Grant category. Top of mind awareness of the grant came to Guzman in an email, as she is a member of an early childhood group of directors. Guzman notified her supervisor and spoke to a grant writer at the college who co-wrote the successful grant proposal. A Pre-K 4 SA team conducted a grantee needs assessment, and the center began receiving new furniture for its four-year-old classroom. The center team works closely with a mentor from Pre-K 4 SA team to provide new innovative equipment and curriculum to the center’s four-year-old patrons, in preparation for the transition of those children to a transformative kinder education experience.

“The Child Development Center's preschool classrooms are looking great with their new furniture from the Pre-K 4 SA grant. The center offers a warm home-like environment and promotes curriculum based learning for children ages 18 months to five years of age, and the furniture is outstanding. The grant was an excellent supplement to our operational budget and it brought quality materials and instruction to the pre-K four-year-old classroom we operate for the children of our clients. In addition to new curriculum materials, the goods and services our college receives from the grant will also increase family education and engagement possibilities. The majority of our program parents are students who will benefit from parenting resources Prek 4 SA provides for the next generation. The Pre-K 4 SA team will also educate our team in new innovative ways to increase parent involvement, up to and including family gatherings. Parent resources are based on teacher observations or articulated needs expressed by the parents. Education topics can include preschool nutrition, anxiety at young ages, positive guidance, and best practices related to parent/child interactions. The grant is further enhancing our four-year-old program, reassuring parents their children continue to receive quality care, thus creating happy and successful students,” said Guzman.

Aileen Hartfield is a member of the center team with real-time knowledge of the transformation. 

“We have deployed some new books, new soft texture blocks in different sizes, classroom activity tables---and new wooden chairs especially for three-to-five year olds that replace 10-plus year old chairs that were appropriate for two-year olds. Some of this prepares kids for their transition to the next environment. The four-to-five year olds are in our pre-K program. These new resources definitely help a lot. The class in the children’s dramatics area has a new play stove-sink-and-refrigerator, that is really quality material. This area includes an entire multicultural book collection and a play dishwasher. Gosh, it looks good. You can tell it’s a stove with the knobs and sticky papers with lines drawn on it to make it look like stove burners, very exact, like racing stripes on a Matchbox Car,” Hartfield said.

“If you had it in your house people would know you spent a lot of money on it. What we are expecting next is to prepare the children for their public school experience. It's not necessarily material directly for the teachers; it’s more for the children. You can teach so much, but if the kids don’t have curriculum-appropriate equipment, there is a gap. We are closing the gap. Incorporating the outdoor environment in our transformation involved not just toys but areas with art, a dramatic area to dress as a firefighter or a nurse... We did give an orientation to the returning parents who knew we had the grant. They knew, but they didn't know---so we spend time explaining to them. We don’t want kids sitting inside and stuck behind a computer, they also need to play in a little bit of mud. It's a good thing discovering dirt and water to create mud cupcakes and mud bacon. They give me mud and mud when I see them play. The combination of natural materials... it's a whole science they are learning, it's a mud kitchen with pots, pans, strainers ladles, spatulas... it’s all outside, not just climbing up and down the slide,” Hartfield said.

“Between what we had and what we received, oh yes, it makes for an extensive and enjoyable planning time for our team that results in greater success for our kids as students,” said Hartfield.

“They started delivering the new materials the week before school started. The play dough and paint tables that were more than 10 years old have been replaced. Just updating the classroom is an upgrade... the children have been taking advantage of it... the kids who returned have definitely noticed it. We earned it. The teachers needed some sort of an upgrade. That's what the parents are looking for nowadays. They don’t just want to take their kids to any daycare. They want to go where there’s a purpose for what their kids are receiving, to prepare them, where kids like coming to school. Even the socializing, learning to share with toys... it's all working out,” said Hartfield.

“We serve new, young parents for the most part, and it still is an eye opener for them, how you want to teach your child at an earlier age, and how receptive the kids are,” said Hartfield. 

Also certified by Texas Rising Star, the St. Philip's College Child Development Center is a department within the college’s Division of Health Sciences. The center, located at 2207 E. Wyoming St., is open from 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. for students and 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. for faculty, staff and community-rate families Mondays–Fridays in the fall and spring semesters. The center serves children 18 months–to–five years of age, and the center team is currently accepting names for fall childcare enrollment. Services are available to students, faculty, staff, and community members. Contact the center staff at (210) 486–2500 or visit the St. Philip’s College Child Development Center online for details. (SPC images by Julysa Sosa)

About Pre-K 4 SA: Pre-K 4 SA is a comprehensive early childhood initiative aimed at changing the education and workforce trajectory of San Antonio in one generation. Pre-K 4 SA offers full-day pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds living in the City of San Antonio. Pre-K 4 SA is free for qualifying students and also accepts tuition-paying students. The school day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Extended hours are available at no additional charge from 7:15-8 a.m., and from 3-6 p.m. for working families. Breakfast, lunch and two snacks are included and free transportation is available to all students. Pre-K 4 SA has four Education Centers located throughout the city: North Education Center, 3635 Medical Dr.; South Education Center, 7031 S. New Braunfels Ave.; East Education Center, 5230 Eisenhauer Rd.; and West Education Center, 1235 Enrique M. Barrera Memorial Parkway. The Pre-K 4 SA Professional Learning program provides prekindergarten through third grade educators in San Antonio with complementary continuing education to support best practice instruction to help every child in San Antonio excel. The Pre-K 4 SA Competitive Grants program provides more than $4 million in funding annually to increase quality and access in early childhood programs throughout San Antonio. Visit www.prek4sa.com for more information. (SOURCE: City of San Antonio)