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United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona – Great Expectations

Great Expectations for Teachers, Children, Families, and Communities

Great Expectations for Teachers, Children, Families, and Communities is made possible by a First Things First early childhood professional development grant that was awarded to United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona (UWTSA) in August 2009.

Great Expectations for Teachers, Children, Families, and Communities is made possible by a First Things First early childhood professional development grant that was awarded to United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona (UWTSA) in August 2009. First Things First required that the winning applicant establish at least one Community of Practice, where early childhood teachers could improve their knowledge about the development and learning of children from birth up to 5 years of age. The people taking part in a Community of Practice also could earn college credit that eventually could lead to a degree in early childhood education.

The second requirement was that the main goal of the grant would be to increase the number of early childhood education degrees awarded by Pima Community College. The third charge was to build a new early childhood professional development system.

UWTSA is known in the community for its vision about what might be for the children and families in Tucson. Thus, when the First Things First funding announcement was released in the spring of 2009, United Way brought together six of its community partners to discuss the announcement and possible next steps.  The partners decided that UWTSA should apply and serve as the manager of all activities, if they were awarded the grant. The partners also believed that just creating one Community of Practice would not meet the needs of the community.

The Community of Practice model used by Great Expectations has far exceeded the expectations of United Way and our community partners. We have been able to raise the bar for high quality teacher education opportunities and for increasing degree completion rates.

We are particularly honored that First Things First has supported our ideas and values that have made Great Expectations part of the early childhood professional development culture in Pima County.  First Things first shares our great expectations.

Last, but, by no means, not least, we are honored that so many early childhood classroom teachers, public school principals, Head Start teachers, and family childcare educators have devoted so much time to Great Expectations. Without all of you, we would not be successful. Uncountable hours have been spent learning in our classes, attending Saturday sessions and evening presentations with our national experts, and spending so many hours studying because you, too, believe in the beauty of your dreams – dreams that you have for the children you care for and teach, children that you love in your families, and for the children you have yet to meet.