In line with its commitment to support early childhood education, a major Valley grant-making organization has awarded half a million dollars to Tempe’s free preschool pilot program, a first-ever effort by the city to improve kindergarten readiness and long-term school success for local children.
It is a significant recognition for Tempe, the only city in Arizona and one of about 10 nationwide, to fund free preschool, say officials.
“We are gratified that such an important local institution as Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is supporting the children of our community,” said Councilmember David Schapira.
The grant supports professional development in quality preschool programming for teachers and instructional assistants involved with the Preschool Resource Expansion initiative, known as Tempe PRE.
This type of training has shown to produce positive academic and social outcomes for children, according to those involved with the program.
“Skilled, highly trained teachers give our children high-quality preschool experiences so they enter kindergarten ready to learn,” said Marie Raymond, education and youth development manager for the city’s Human Services Department.
This specialized training will help Tempe PRE’s goal to achieve high-quality ratings in the statewide Quality Ratings and Improvement System, said a city spokeswoman.
Tempe PRE is a two-year pilot program approved by the Tempe City Council that began in fall 2017. Tempe PRE’s 360 students are taught by certified teachers using child-centered curriculum. The program’s 20 classrooms are housed in 13 local elementary schools through partnerships with the Tempe Elementary and Kyrene school districts.
According to city officials, one of the objectives of Tempe PRE is to improve kindergarten readiness and long-term school success. High-quality preschool in Tempe is designed to complement the city’s Roadmap for Education plan, which aims to ensure that all Tempe children live in stable and nurturing families; are mentally and physically healthy; are ready to succeed in school; live in safe and supportive neighborhoods; and make successful
transitions to adulthood.