Flagstaff’s San Francisco de Asis Catholic Preschool receives highest quality rating

| August 26, 2018

From First Things First:

From left to right, Rhonda Etsitty, Quality First Coach; Lisa Barquin SFdA Center Director; Bonn Baudelaire, FTF Community Outreach Coordinator; and Bing Thomas, former KELC Center Director

FLAGSTAFF (July, 2018) – The San Francisco de Asis Catholic Preschool in Flagstaff recently achieved a five-star rating through Arizona’s First Things First Quality First program. The ratings is the highest available and a first for the Coconino region.

“Quality First has been incredibly valuable to our program,” said Lisa Barquin, the preschool’s director.

Quality First partners with child care and preschool providers to improve the quality of early learning across Arizona. The FTF program funds quality improvements that research proves help children thrive, such as training for teachers to expand their skills and to help create learning environments that nurture the emotional, social and academic development of every child.

The preschool, which opened in 1997 has 29 children enrolled in 2 classrooms. One part of the Quality First program provides a teacher coach, who visits with the San Francisco de Asis teachers to deliver training in a variety of topics, such as, early learning standards, health and safety.

The coach also helps teachers look at their classroom to make sure things are laid out in a fashion to best stimulate early learning, Barquin said.

“They looked at the number of books we had. Were there enough books for the number of children,” she said. “We created quiet places for the children to read and moved the dramatic play and blocks to a different part of the classroom.”

For Autumn Emkeit, the preschool is exactly what she and her husband were looking for their daughter Grace. They enrolled grace at San Francisco de Asis after researching other centers. They liked that staff could work with Grace, who has spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.

This type of attention is given to all the students, Barquin said.

“The learning is driven by individual interactions with the teacher,” she said. “There’s a lot of one-on-one work to make sure the child gets the support they need wherever they’re at.”

For Grace’s parents, it’s made all the difference for their daughter’s learning.

“Grace is more ready than ever to begin kindergarten because of this Quality First center,” Emkeit said.
“This center is the full embodiment of what quality education looks like.”

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Category: Child Welfare, Education, Programs

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