On the Journey
news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
ACDS PreK: the only program in our region to win coveted level-5 rating
Aspen Country Day School is pleased to report that our PreKindergarten program has become the only early childhood program in our region (Pitkin, Garfield, Eagle, and Lake counties) to receive a level-5 rating from Colorado Shines, the statewide quality rating and improvement system for early care and learning programs.
"The rating program is really about making a difference for children -- not just children enrolled at Aspen Country Day School, but as a model for how a strong PreKindergarten can be a model for early childhood education everywhere," said Tsvetana Mawicke, ACDS PreK co-Director and teacher.
Colorado Shines is a service of the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood, which rates Colorado's early care and learning programs, connects families with quality programs, and helps early care and learning programs improve quality. It evaluates how programs:
- Support children's health and safety.
- Ensure their early childhood professionals are well-trained and effective.
- Provide a supportive learning environment that teaches children new skills.
- Help parents become partners in their child's learning.
- Demonstrate strong leadership and business practices.
How does a preschool program jump from a rating of 1 (which requires only basic licensing) to a 5 (which means it's one of the top programs in the state)? An exhaustive rating process examines policies, procedures, mission, staff training, and more. At a surprise evaluation visit in mid-October, inspectors even took out stopwatches and timed children washing their hands before lunch. ACDS earned particularly high marks for its student-teacher ratio, the qualifications of teachers, and the warm and lively classroom. The report commended staff for engaging in stimulating conversations with children, "as one staff member did when asking about how the child had learned so much about dinosaurs."
As at any age level, the most important element in quality early childhood education is excellence in teaching. "At Aspen Country Day School we are lucky to have experienced and professional teachers along with dedicated assistants that are passionate about their jobs," says ACDS PreK co-director and teacher Laurie Frampton. "Many of our teachers have been here for more than ten years. Children also benefit from great teaching from the whole Country Day faculty as they experience performing arts, foreign language, and physical education classes."
"Research shows that high-quality early childhood education is directly linked to academic success in school, long-term mental health benefits, fewer expulsions, lower incarceration rates, higher earning potential as well as success later in life," says Megan Monaghan of Kids First, the City of Aspen's childcare resource center. Monaghan worked with the ACDS PreK team to prepare for the process. "In the time before Kindergarten, the brain develops cognitive, language, problem-solving, social emotional, as well as fine and gross-motor skills. A high-quality preschool experience provides a foundation for our youngest learners to develop these skills and reach their potential. The ACDS preschool teachers are committed to creating a rich and meaningful experience for their students."
The Aspen Country Day School PreKindergarten serves 14 children each day in the PreKindergarten Three classroom, with 16 students per day in PreKindergarten Four. ACDS enrolls 265 students from PreK through Eighth Grade. Founded in 1969, the school is known for its commitment to a rigorous, engaging curriculum that balances academics, arts, and outdoor education. With 65 teachers and staff, ACDS is part of the National Association of Independent Schools. For more about Country Day: www.aspencountryday.org