Early Childhood Education Matters: Merced County Preschools Earn Top Marks

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. - Each week in partnership with the Merced County Office of Education we highlight North Valley leaders who specialize in early childhood education.

Merced City's preschool programs are receiving top marks from the county's Office of Education. Each of the district's 13 state funded preschools earned top honor over the past year through a unique quality rating program. 

Having tea parties, going camping, and making art masterpieces are all different ways Miss Solis' preschool students use their marbles.

"Anything is new any experience is new for them," said Rudolph Rivera Preschool Teacher Adriana Solis. 

It's a wide range of various types of interactive play stations Solis said gets the kids thinking in more ways than one.

"They're grasping everything. They're excited to learn. Everything's a new experience for them. You never know what you will get out of these little guys. We maybe have our next scientist, next teacher, or next fireman here. They learn it from here at school," she said.

Her classroom is one of 13 receiving top honors from the QRIS ranking. The Quality Rating and Improvement System is broken up into seven sections measuring three core areas: teacher-child interactions, program environment, and teachers and director qualifications.

"Those programs that are getting high quality ratings are getting financial incentives for quality practices. They have been rated and those dollars basically go back into the program so they can continue to maintain those high quality programs across time," said Merced County Office of Education Early Education Program Manager Samantha Thompson.

Thompson said these preschool programs score so high because the county invests into their teachers and training for their educators to then invest a greater understanding into every child's individual needs.

"It really brings the quality of the coaching to a higher level. We are really able to provide a high level of intensive coaching support and technology assistance through our coaching team," she said.

Merced City School District Early Childhood Program Director Melanie Cole said it's in these years  children need the most attention.

"Because of how the brain develops between zero and five it's like the window of opportunity. The sooner you receive intervention the better. We like to say in our program, when children attend preschool we are putting them on the 'road to success,'" she said. 

Rooms like Miss Solis' and teachers like her are a perfect example of the QRIS awarded grant dollars hard at work.

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