PRESCOTT - After two years without national early childhood education accreditation, Primavera School is once again among the top early childhood programs in the nation.
Primavera's two-year break from accreditation was not because of a lack of quality programs, but rather to allow for a time of self-study, according to Director Carol Darrow.
"We needed to take a step back to prepare for the new extensive accreditation process," she said.
Primavera received its first accreditation in 1990 from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Darrow said the school was one of the first preschools in the Prescott area to receive national accreditation.
Primavera renewed its accreditation every three years until 2008. At that time, NAEYC changed its system of accreditation. The new system is more comprehensive and more extensive, Darrow noted.
The director said the school spent two years working and collaborating with teachers, administrators, board members and parents to prepare for the accreditation process.
The process began with a self-study and an application for accreditation.
As part of the self-study, school officials documented procedures in more than 400 accreditation criteria.
NAEYC considers 10 program areas, including relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment, health, teachers, families, community relationships, physical environment and leadership/management.
Each classroom must create a portfolio documenting all the criteria of the programs the teacher is teaching. As director, Darrow also created a portfolio for the entire school.
Once the self-study and application is complete, NAEYC schedules a site visit by trained assessors.
The assessors visited Primavera May 27. They observed each classroom and studied each portfolio.
In addition to program criteria, NAEYC requires teachers to have CPR training and pediatric first aid certification.
One month after the site visit, NAEYC officials notified Primavera it had successfully completed the accreditation process.
"We scored 100 percent in almost all standards," Darrow said. "We are extremely proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards. NAEYC accreditation lets families in the Prescott community know that children at Primavera School are getting the best care and early learning experience possible."
"The NAEYC accreditation system raises the bar for preschools and other early childhood programs," said Mark Ginsberg, Ph.D., executive director of NAEYC. "Primavera's NAEYC accreditation is a sign that they are a leader in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education, and to help give all children a better start."
Primavera School is a private, independent school for preschool through fifth-grade students.
"Our focus is on educating the whole child, all-inclusive of their physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs," Darrow said.
Although there is an enrollment process, Primavera does not test students for enrollment. Parents and students tour the campus, visit classrooms and interview with Darrow. Primavera's curriculum is aligned with all Arizona standards.
Primavera strives to keep K-5 class sizes to about 12 students. The preschool and pre-kindergarten ratio is eight students to one teacher.
The two administrators and 15 teachers at Primavera adhere to the belief that whole-child education means children are safe, engaged, supported, challenged and healthy.
For more information about Primavera, contact Darrow at 445-5382.