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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Quality First preschools in Globe-Miami area helping children prepare for kindergarten

Brandi White, a mother of four children and a former elementary school teacher has seen a difference in her 4-year-old son, Vander, since enrolling him in Sylvia Ducharme’s home preschool in Globe. White knew Vander would need some help preparing for kindergarten, so she was looking for a preschool enrolled in Quality First.

As a signature program of First Things First, Quality First program partners with child care and preschool providers across Arizona to improve the quality of early learning. Quality First funds quality improvements that research proves help children thrive, such as training for teachers to expand their skills and achieve their best.

As a 5-star Quality First program in Globe, Ducharme improved her preschool program with recommended materials and coaching support.

“I used to not have the right materials or the knowledge about the right materials … with the coaching, I get a lot of training that helps me to understand what is needed,” said Ducharme.

White said Vander has made great advances since attending Ducharme’s preschool.

“When he started, he couldn’t identify letters or shapes and couldn’t count high,” said White. “Now he knows all his colors, shapes, letters and numbers. He can count up to 45 with no mess ups and up to 100 with a little help.”

In the nearby town of Miami, Sherry Dorathy, superintendent of the Miami Unified School District, oversees the Little Vandals Preschool and has noticed changes in her preschool teachers and classroom environment because of the Quality First program.

“I can tell there is a huge difference in the classroom arrangement from what it was before and what it is now,” said Dorathy. “The classroom used to look cluttered and very full. Now they’ve rearranged the furniture and areas are easy to access. Teachers have also increased their lesson planning.”

Ivannia Vasquez, the mother of 3-year-old daughter, Audrina, said that she’s seen a big difference in her child’s behavior after attending the Little Vandals Preschool.

“She is an only child and very quiet and shy,” said Vasquez. “It was different for her to have to share, and she didn’t know how to approach the kids. The teachers helped her to get to know other children. Now she gives everyone hugs. It’s so cute.

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