By Anne Gibson

There is a feeling of change in the air. Vail school buses are out doing practice runs, teachers can be seen carrying boxes of supplies to their classrooms, and students who have been at home bound due to Covid-19 are preparing to return to school on July 18th.

The Vail School District, in keeping with its motto of presenting options for parents, offers two options for preschoolers through Vail Community Programs (VCP) and through Vail Inclusive Preschool (VIP).

Linda Kubiak is the director of VCP and Heather Norbrock is the director of VIP. Both programs follow AZ Early Learning Standards (AzELS), both are licensed through the Arizona Department of Health Service, both participate in the statewide Quality First Star rating initiative, and both focus on preparing students so they are ready to succeed in kindergarten. The two programs offer full or part time experiences Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. As long as space is available students may join at any time during the year.

The community based VCP operates 50 weeks per year at eight school sites (Acacia, Copper Ridge, Cottonwood, Desert Willow, Mesquite, Ocotillo Ridge, Senita Valley, and Sycamore). Students attending VCP must be toilet trained students and between three to five years old. Two sites, Desert Willow and Sycamore, offer classes for two-year-old toddlers. Staff at these two sites provide diaper changes as needed. These classroom environments are intentionally designed to support exploratory learning and reflect the development of students in the program. Staffed by Early Childhood Specialists with Early Learning Credentials and/or Degrees, the ratio is two adults to 18-25 students.

The VIP is located on the campuses of Cienega and Mica Mountain High Schools and operates year-round; it serves students two to six years of age. Teachers hold an Arizona Department of Education certificate and an Early Childhood endorsement at these two sites. All students are served in an inclusive setting with services for students who are eligible for special education. Direct instruction is used to best fit the needs of the individual student.  The staff ratio here is three staff to 15-20 students.

For further information and to register, please contact the following VCP sites at Acacia, 520-879-2268; Copper Ridge, 520-879-3761; Cottonwood, 520-879-2660; Desert Willow, 520-879-2313; Mesquite, 520-879-2184; Ocotillo Ridge, 520-879-3660; Senita Valley, 520-879-3185, or Sycamore, 520-879-2579.

For VIP contact Cienega Campus Front Office at 520-879-1753 or Mica Mountain Campus Front Office at 520-879-1753.

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Anne Gibson