BALDWIN PARK – A troupe of 12 preschoolers dressed to represent an array of cultures celebrated the advantages provided by Baldwin Park Unified’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) program through a montage of songs on April 27.
The children’s performance was the highlight of the program’s 17th annual Family and Community Partnership Recognition Luncheon and a keen reminder for the more than 120 school leaders and community partners gathered that preschool programs pave the way for academic success.
“The educational foundation starts with early childhood,” ECE Director Ricardo Rivera said. “Our district is very understanding and supportive of that concept.”
Rivera described how the program has pioneered preschool bilingual education, with a Spanish/English immersion program at two sites, and adopted a new curriculum that will go into effect in 2017-18.
The program also saw strong parent reaction to the pilot of an all-day program – a current focus of the federal program.
“It’s been extremely successful. The future for us probably includes an additional expansion of this model,” Rivera said.
Parent Monique Rodarte, who serves as chairperson of the ECE’s Policy Council Board, said the all-day pilot allows children – including her son – to attend from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The pilot program supports preschool efforts to prepare children for kindergarten.
“Students have more time in the classroom and access to education and some students, like my son, can also have a working mom,” Rodarte said.
She cited research that shows that children with working mothers grow up with greater esteem and are more mature. Daughters of women who work are more likely to become supervisors and sons of women who work are more likely to help around the house and with child-raising, she said.
Rivera said new portable classrooms at Geddes and Heath elementary schools will support the expansion of full-day programs in 2017-18, and a third site could be established.
He also noted that the ECE program collaborates effectively with transitional kindergarten (TK) and kindergarten programs, ensuring children are placed in the program that will best serve them. Some districts, he noted, have seen preschool programs struggle as parents shift children to TK classes, but Baldwin Park Unified remains at full enrollment.
Lunch guests watched a video highlighting lessons in science, English language arts, cognitive growth, art and physical activity. Preschoolers worked on spelling words, created designs in glue, raced cars down a ramp, constructed designs from blocks and rode tricycles and scooters around a track.
Superintendent Froilan N. Mendoza, who started at Baldwin Park as the ECE director, said early learning programs have the power to transform a child’s academic future.
“Early childhood education really has a big impact on kids, and has a lot of impact on graduation rates,” Mendoza said. “I believe that 110 percent. We have to support early childhood education. I’d rather spend the money now versus doing something later. This is the time to do it.”
Baldwin Park Unified’s program has a long history, stretching back to 1942. The District was among the first in the nation to adopt Head Start in 1965, and also one of the first to adopt Early Head Start, which helps pregnant mothers and children ages 3 and younger.
A key to the program has been strong parent involvement and community partnerships. This year, 97 percent of families have created family education goals, which include additional education efforts by parents.
“We can’t do this by ourselves,” Mendoza said.
BPUSD_ECE_1: Preschool children perform a montage of songs during the Baldwin Park Unified Early Childhood Education program’s 17th annual Family and Community Partnership Recognition Luncheon, held April 27.
BPUSD_ECE_2: Baldwin Park Unified Early Childhood Education Director Ricardo Rivera gave an update on improvements during 2016-17 and expansions planned next year during the program’s 17th annual Family and Community Partnership Recognition Luncheon, held April 27.
BPUSD_ECE_3: Baldwin Park Unified Superintendent Froilan N. Mendoza thanked the District’s staff and community partners for supporting Early Childhood Education during the program’s 17th annual Family and Community Partnership Recognition Luncheon, held April 27.
BPUSD_ECE_4: Baldwin Park Unified parent Monique Rodarte, who serves as chairperson of the ECE’s Policy Council Board, praised the addition of an all-day preschool option during the program’s 17th annual Family and Community Partnership Recognition Luncheon, held April 27.