Youth Development

Valley of the Sun Association for the Education of Young Children

Building Leaders from the Start

aka Valley of the Sun Chapter AzAEYC

SCOTTSDALE, AZ

Mission

Valley of the Sun Early Childhood Association (VSECA.org) was incorporated as an Arizona non-profit 501(c)(3) in 1974 with the mission of serving children, families and educators in greater Phoenix and Maricopa County. We share a proud history of becoming the second national affiliate for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In 2017, Valley of the Sun became a chapter of Arizona AEYC, joining our colleagues across the state of Arizona.

Ruling Year

1974

Director

Mrs. Mary Ann Biermeier

Main Address

25150 N PIMA RD School Office

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85255 USA

Keywords

early childhood education, professional development

EIN

23-7066420

 Number

7738738286

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Professional Societies, Associations (O03)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Kindergarten, Nursery Schools, Preschool, Early Admissions (B21)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

To lift working families out of poverty, we must take deliberate action to dismantle systemic barriers to ensure that families have equitable access to opportunity. Providing quality early childhood learning environments is critical to this transformation. Yet, Title 1 school playgrounds are notoriously hardscape with no trees, no gardens, and limited access to the natural world. When we speak of equity, we must first look to our learning environments. FLIP THIS PLAYGROUND provides outdoor libraries, unique gardens, music centers, pathways and small centers which support foundational literacy and scientific inquiry. We are putting research into practice. We are acting upon our values. We are creating beautiful spaces for teachers and children to create learning together. In addition, we work with the teaching teams to utilize the playground as an outdoor classroom. By offering professional development in utilizing the outdoor classroom, we transform teacher's thinking.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

FLIP THIS PLAYGROUND

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Objective 1: 100% Teacher Participation in Professional Development Flip this Playground - Harmony Garden Measured by: Attendance at music workshop and collaborative professional development meetings. Outcome: Teachers are comfortable and familiar with use of instruments, songs and rhymes. Objective 2: 100% Teacher Participation in Documenting Student Outcomes Measured by: Use of diverse classroom assessment data, such as formative, summative, performance-based, portfolio, and student observations. Results are used in conjunction with district, state, and national assessment data to form a picture of student learning. Outcome: Teachers integrate outdoor learning with assessments already utilized by the school district and Head Start. Teachers no longer view outdoor play as a break from learning. Objective 3: Measured Rise in Student English Language Development (2020-2021 school year) Measured by: Use of diverse classroom assessment data, such as formative, summative, performance-based, portfolio, and student observations. Results are used in conjunction with district, state, and national assessment data to form a picture of student learning. Outcome: Students participate in Harmony Music Garden with small groups and on their own initiative, playing instruments and singing songs.

Harmony Music Garden: We are transforming dirt playground into a wheelchair accessible music garden. To accomplish this task, we will hire a landscaper to design and install walkways, planters, irrigation, and footings for the musical instruments (hardscape). Once the hardscape is installed, we will purchase plants and shrubs for the garden. Together with the parent committee and volunteers, we will create a beautiful space for children to learn. We will hire an acoustical musician from Harmony Freenotes to train the teaching staff on how to use these instruments. This professional development is critical to learning outcomes. We are mindful that teachers will not engage children in this space if they are not comfortable themselves with the instruments. Freenotes Harmony is the industry leader in outdoor musical instruments. These innovatively designed instruments are durable, sustainable, and perfectly tuned sound sculptures that enhance any outdoor space. Installations can be found in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Workshops provided by Freenotes nurture each person’s innate and unique creative expression. Playing Freenotes provides immediate gratification and fosters confidence in the ability to play music. Creating repeated patterns of melody, harmony, and rhythm opens the door to exploring and interacting with music. Language and learning are melded together in this enjoyable experience. Projects at Title 1 schools are difficult to fund as the families are not a source for fundraising. Families contribute to the project through in-kind and volunteering their time. Valley of the Sun has received a portion of the funding for Harmony Music Garden at Sunrise Elementary through a grant from the Arizona Coyotes Foundation. We have also received small donations toward the purchase of plants and scrubs for the gardens.

We are 100% volunteer organization with no grant staff employed. We believe our work speaks volumes and that outcomes drive contributions.

Our primary focus for this grant is professional development. For children to benefit from these musical instruments, the teachers will need to have a certain level of confidence in playing the instruments, confidence in introducing instruments to young children, and a desire to document learning outcomes. We measure the success of professional development by the learning outcomes of children.We have an evaluation process that include teacher and parent surveys. We are documenting learning engagements using diverse classroom assessment data, such as formative, summative, performance-based, portfolio, and student observations. Results are used in conjunction with district, state, and national assessment data to form a picture of student learning.

We successfully collaborated with Maricopa County Head Start and Deer Valley School District in transforming playgrounds for children. We have opened up a grant application, inviting other Title 1 schools to apply.

External Reviews

Financials

Valley of the Sun Association for the Education of Young Children

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Operations

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable