This past December I, along with another Texas AEYC board member, joined the Dallas AEYC co-presidents and the senior director of NAEYC Accreditation of Programs for Young Children to honor a program receiving its accreditation notification.
The Northaven Cooperative Preschool was part of the initial cohort of NAEYC-accredited programs and has maintained its accreditation for 30 consecutive years. They had completed their most recent assessor visit and were awaiting notification of the results. As part of their ongoing efforts to recognize quality, the Dallas AEYC had asked to stop by for a quick visit to thank the program for its dedication and to recognize its commitment to quality with a photo opportunity. The folks at Northaven had no idea that we’d all be there to congratulate them as well on the accomplishment.
What does quality look like?
- A program that has been accredited for 30 years but never assumed re-accreditation was automatic. Northaven Co-op Director Trish Carlton after recovering from the shock of all of us trooping into the program, said that they had been a little hesitant about saying yes to our visit as they weren’t expecting to hear about accreditation for a few more weeks.
- Children who were deeply engaged in self-directed activity in every room we visited. Teachers observed and interacted responsively, whether that was preparing food for baking, or making a flower catcher in the Creation Station—a center fully stocked with reusable materials.
- A large motor room with materials primarily made and repurposed by parents. The space included mattress staircases and a clawfoot bathtub that was perfect for a game of pop-up peek-a-boo.
- Program staff who are so committed to children and families that Kathy Delsanter, the original director for the first 30 years of the program, has returned to the classroom as the lead preschool teacher.
- Local and state board members who used volunteer time to recognize quality in action in their community.
- NAEYC staff members were so excited about program quality that the accreditation certificate—as big as a Publishers Clearing House check—was delivered in person.
It was difficult to tell who was more excited, the AEYC volunteers and staff, or the Northaven teachers and director. It was a privilege to be a part of NAEYC’s Strategic Direction in action, supporting high-quality early learning and the profession, and engaging in meaningful member support. It made me proud to be an AEYC volunteer then, and an NAEYC staff member now.
Mary Jamsek is the Director of Quality Assurance and Assessment for the Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation at NAEYC. She was a master teacher and lecturer at the University of Texas and a 25-year NAEYC volunteer.