Happening right now around Arizona: PDG spring community events!

Since 2017, ADE-ECE has worked in partnership with Sure Shot Photography to conduct a qualitative study of the impact of the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) opportunity in 15 participating programs. The programs represent l0% of all programs who participated in PDG. They are a selection of family home providers, faith-based providers, charter schools, Head Start, and school district programs. This spring, these programs are hosting community events recognize their children and families, honor their administrative and teaching staff, and celebrate the incredible things the PDG has helped them to accomplish. We will provide on-going updates as each event occurs.

Event #10

The final PDG Spring Community Event was held at Smith Hall at SS Simon & Jude Cathedral School. The event was well-attended by families, stakeholders, and community leaders. One such leader was Tony Navarette, featured below, who is currently running for State Senate in Arizona District 30. Mr. Navarette’s commitment to the community and education are greatly appreciated.

L to R: State Senate candidate Tony Navarrete, PDG teacher and director Cathy Chrisman, and Nicol Russell



Event #9: Kindertots

Kindertots was started with the belief that young children need a school that feels like a home- a place where they feel completely comfortable and safe. This philosophy guides everything they do. They look for teachers who are, first and foremost, warm and loving. They believe children learn best when they feel both nurtured and inspired. The celebration at Kindertots marked not just their stellar implementation of the PDG, but also the 10th Anniversary of Kindertots!


Event #8: Flagstaff Cooperative School and STAR School

This joint production was attended by families and staff of both Flagstaff Co-Op and STAR School. The Flagstaff Cooperative Preschool is a non-profit organization established in 1962. Their mission is to develop the intellect, personality, body and heart of each child by creating a cooperative environment filled with experiences in tune with each child’s individual characteristics, interests, and family backgrounds. The STAR School is a charter elementary school located 25 miles East of Flagstaff, Arizona. The school serves students from pre-school through grade 8 who live in the Southwest corner of the Navajo Nation and the surrounding rural area.The STAR School’s vision is to create a joyful learning community in which members develop the character, skills and attitudes for understanding themselves, living in balance and serving all their relations. Their celebration included local folk entertainer Matthew Hall who provided stories and songs with the children.





Event #7: Page Unified School District

The Page Preschool celebration included a fantastic hoop dance performance by the Tribe of Young Feathers and some words of appreciation by Superintendent Dr. Rob Varner. Another special guest was school board member, Mr. Ed Franklin, who is also the father of Lori Masseur, the Director of Early Childhood Education for ADE.



Superintendent Dr. Rob Varner expressed his commitment to early childhood education.  
The Page Preschool was supported by (L to R) Lori Masseur, Carrie Calhoon, and Director Penni Case.

Event #6: Fowler Elementary School District

The Fowler Elementary School District celebrated their participation in the PDG with an Early Childhood Education fair for the community! There was music, games, food, and special attractions like a train and bounce houses!






Event #5: Bobcat Citizen Preschool in Benson, AZ

Principal Jomel Jansson says, “We prepare students to be “On Track for Tomorrow!”  Everything we do at Benson Primary School aligns to our motto, mission, and guiding principles and positively impacts the life of every child.  Our success begins with happy children and outstanding personnel!”



Food for the evening was provided by Southwest Foods.

Event #4: Child-Parent Centers, Liberty Head Start Center and Ocotillo Early Learning Center

In addition to creating new, full-day slots for children in high-quality early learning settings, PDG funding was used to braid funding with other sources like the federal Head Start and IDEA grants to create full-day experiences for children who may have been receiving only half-day opportunities. In Pima County, Liberty Head Start, operated by CEO Erin Lyons, and Ocotillo Early Learning Center, administered by Principal Paul Ohm, worked diligently to make this part of the model they implemented for participation in PDG.




Community members in attendance included long-time champion of and warrior for all children, Naomi Karp, Senior Director of Early Childhood Professional Development at United Way of Tucson.

Event #3: Stanfield

Stanfield Elementary School (SES) is a rural school district in Pinal County where exciting things are occurring. SES was awarded the US Healthier Schools Challenge Gold Award of Distinction, the first in the state of Arizona! They were also awarded the Bronze National Healthy Schools Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Additionally, the Arizona Rural Schools Association Pinal County Teacher of the Year, Yvette Hernandez is the lead PE teacher at SES and has been instrumental in ensure Stanfield is a healthy choice for the families in the district. The PDG program allowed SES to provide high-quality early learning experiences to 4- and 5-year-old children who were not yet eligible for kindergarten.


Teachers and Superintendent Dr. Melissa Sadorf (C)      Dean Michael Tanascu dancing with some of the children.


Dr. Chris Lineberry, Principal, shared his             The children celebrated alongside their families.

enthusiasm for the PDG program.


Event #2: Arcoiris Child Care Preschool and Famania Learning Center

One outstanding aspect of Arizona’s implementation of the PDG grant was its commitment to providing families with the choice of setting for their children through the mixed-delivery system of services. In San Luis, there were four family home providers during the four years of the grant. Tonight, we celebrated two of these high-quality programs: Arcoiris Child Care Preschool, operated by Maria Valenzuela and Famania Learning Center, operated by Marcela Pacheco. Community leader Honorable Marco A Tony Reyes, Chairman of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors also shared a few words.





Event #1: Yuma District One


Preschool Coordinator Marybeth Turner (L)  has been the PDG superstar of Yuma, hiring staff, recruiting children and families, and implementing all 12 elements of high-quality preschool program at each campus in Yuma District One. Superintendent James Sheldahl (R), spoke about his commitment to high-quality early childhood education for all children.


The children performed two musical numbers, including one in which they used sign language!


The families included parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…everyone!


The amazing teaching staff were recognized for their efforts by Mary Beth Turner, the Preschool Coordinator, and ADE Deputy Associate Superintendent Nicol Russell thanked the community on behalf of ADE.