Everyone ready for a story?
Back in 2012 we, Young Scholars had suffered the loss of one of our owners Mr. Geoff who helped to start Young Scholars Academy back in 1995. The combination of his death and the financial aspects afterwards were extremely hard on many personal and business aspects. There were talks about how much notice to give our families, what severance packages would look like to our teachers, selling the tiny furniture, everything. It was a very sad and scary time for us all, we were faced with a fork in the road type decision. Our Executive Director Jenn decided one night that this wasn’t how the YSA story was going to end. This is not the impact we wanted to leave on children and families. So what did she do? Rallied us all together to fight the good fight to stay in business.
Becoming a NAEYC center was one of those things on the list that was going to keep us in the game.
What does it mean to be NAEYC accredited? If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of the term, allow us to explain. NAEYC is an accreditation process and program that creates a high set of standards for programs to follow. In your accreditation the assessors look at everything from your kitchen menu to your teacher’s credentials and literally everything in between. The process isn’t easy but that’s probably why only 8% of preschools across the nation are NAEYC accredited. Here’s a link if you’re interested in learning more about the standards and statistics about these programs.
We have been building our program up, revamping our classroom layouts, equipment and curriculum all in a matter of months. We needed it within a certain amount of time to justify keeping the doors open. Our assessor got to the building at 5:45 and because the universe has a sense of humor, we had one of the worst thunderstorms in Colorado Springs history! Water seeped in under the classroom doors, people couldn’t go into the parking lot to get back to their vehicles after grabbing their kids, it even took our freshly-built greenhouse! Literally it tried to take flight and got tangled in our playground fence. So the assessor was stuck, we were panicking on one of the most important days in YSA history. It was heartbreaking to an extent because so many things we had spent weekends and a TON of hours on were washed away or beaten down by this rainstorm. Craziness!
So because of the weather our assessor wasn’t able to go outside and make sure we were meeting that criteria, so he had to come back the next day! Now typically a visit is only one day but also very YSA-like things just had to go a little different for us! At the end of the whole ordeal we ended up passing with a 97% passing grade. Fun fact, you only need a 75% to officially pass…
To say that the NAEYC- visit is burned into a lot of our memories is an understatement! We fought to not only stay in business for our families, we fought to become a program that has an even higher standard to care for families! It’s a great story to tell nowadays but yeesh did it take a lot of blood, sweat and tears. (We say blood because there’s bound to have been someone with a paper-cut those days.)
It’s been five years since our initial NAEYC accreditation process and so we’re up for renewal this year. This time around it’s a very different process as we’ve been practicing and incorporating these concepts for the past 5 years. There’s no panic to rush to get things done in time and no rush to go buy the whole toy section at Lakeshore, it’s very different and we’re proud! We’re so grateful for the families and relationships we’ve been able to build with our community over the years because of this N.A.E.Y.C. process. We urge families to find another NAEYC accredited program if they are moving away. The concepts implemented in these types of school go far beyond just curriculum. We truly believe we’re helping to foster problem-solving skills, social emotional responses and even independence!
Thank you to those who have been with us on this journey and ask that you cross your fingers as we take on the next assessment! If videos are for you, Ms. Dotty and Ms. Jordan go in depth about what the NAEYC re-accreditation process looks like and again how it’s better for children and families!