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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.

Pascua Yaqui teachers create adaptable learning environments for young children

Children exposed to quality early care and education are more ready for kindergarten, do better in school and are more likely to graduate high school. That’s why the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Regional Partnership Council supports the teachers at the Ili Uusim Mahtawa’apo, the Pascua Yaqui Head Start, in Tucson.

Research shows that training and coaching teachers to expand their skills helps create learning environments that nurture the emotional, social and academic development of every child.

With 141 young children attending the Ili Uusim Mahtawa’apo, the regional council wanted to provide more professional development opportunities to the 18 teachers serving these young students.

In fiscal year 2018, teachers began attending the Inspire Inclusion and Early Literacy Development Community of Practice instructed through Easter Seals Blake Foundation and Make Way for Books. The 10-session course cover topics such as the educational implications of being at-risk and how to apply developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom, examine and discuss cultural factors affecting a child’s behavior, demonstrate family-friendly teaching practices and the use of self-evaluations.

Teachers learned how to positively engage children through storytelling, and how to modify this skill for children with special needs.

“These sessions have allowed for our teachers to not only learn but how to implement these skills within their classrooms,” said Head Start Manager Martha Guy.

Through these sessions, educators set personal goals and received individualized coaching on how to best accomplish them. In just one year, Ili Uusim Mahtawa’apo has noticed the positive changes in their classrooms, especially with teaching the children the love of literacy.

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