Winton Woods City Schools’ preschool program has received a five-star rating, the highest possible rating, from the State of Ohio’s Step Up to Quality Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System. This system was created to recognize and promote early learning and development programs that meet quality standards over and above the health and safety licensing requirements established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Department of Education.
“The whole preschool team—administrators, teachers, related staff and preschool aides, along with support from our network of early childhood providers helped us,” said Patty D’Arcy, director of student services. “It was a team effort and a well-deserved rating.”
D’Arcy explained that earning the five-star rating involved years of work on the part of everyone involved. “This could not be accomplished in one year or two years,” she said. “Teachers, administrators, aides and related service staff—along with parent support have been providing excellent preschool education and services to children for many years in the Winton Woods district. With the stringent state regulations and requirements, the current staff and principal were instrumental in completing those requirements.”
Winton Woods City Schools’ preschool program has inclusionary classrooms that serve children with special needs and typically developing children. All teachers are certified in early childhood education and special education. The program also has the benefit of an extended staff which includes a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and a speech pathologist. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the district increased preschool programs by offering all-day preschool, as well as morning and afternoon classes.
“Our communities were surveyed regarding the need for additional early educational opportunities for all students,” said Superintendent Anthony G. Smith. “Our Community Engagement Coordinator Corina Denny spent countless hours gathering this input, and as a result, an additional quality preschool program was created.” D’Arcy said that the district is always looking “to increase opportunities and additional educational experiences for our young learners.”
Ways that preschool programs can provide increased quality at the Step Up to Quality Five Star level include: lower staff/child ratios; administrators and teachers with higher education qualifications and who complete more than 20 hours of specialized training every two years; teachers who develop lesson plans that support each child’s growth; the program completes assessments to evaluate and improve the learning experience; and evidence that the program values its families and community.
“Preschool has been on our educational radar from the onset,” said Smith. “We are proud to have received the state’s highest five star rating, and we are planning to extend preschool services in the near future in an attempt to provide early interventions for our future wee Warriors.”