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Standing Out: Why Parents Choose Preschool at the Manassas Park Community Center

Preschool Teacher, Ms. Brandy, admires the work of one of her preschool students.

When parents of preschool age kids are considering where to send their kids to preschool, the big question is: what separates one preschool program from another?

The staff at the Manassas Park Community Center (MPCC), knows it’s a combination of their experience, knowledge, and love of children that makes their program stand out from all the rest in the area.

“Between Ms. Sue – the Preschool Director, and myself, we have over 18 years’ experience teaching at the preschool level,” said Arely Angel, Lead Preschool Teacher for the MPCC Preschool Program. “As a matter of fact, the first class Ms. Sue taught will be graduating from high school in two years,” she added.

“When our preschool students enter kindergarten, they will be ready,” said Ms. Angel. “We have been told from many kindergarten teachers, being ready for kindergarten means much more than knowing their letters and numbers. Our students have been taught the importance of making good decisions,” she added. “Our focus is to help the students become independent learners, which helps provide the foundation for positive learning,” added Ms. Sue.

By providing an in-house curriculum that references the Virginia Foundation Blocks, as well as emphasizing recreation with creative programs and materials that encourage and invite participation; the students at MPCC preschool are taught how to choose, participate, and to adapt to a variety of settings.

The MPCC preschool program is licensed by the State of Virginia, Department of Social Services. In addition, the preschool program has also received a 3 out of 5-star rating from the Virginia Quality Initiative (VQI) Program. The VQI program recognizes preschool providers for the quality of care provided. “When the staff from VQI observed our programs, they were impressed by the positive learning environment we provide here,” added Ms. Sue.

The preschool program is divided into two separate programs; Seniors (4 and 5 years old) and Juniors (3 years old).

“Communication and relationships with our parents and families is essential to make our programs effective,” said Ms. Angel, “We understand that for a child to be successful in school and life it takes collaboration from all those within the child’s community.”
There is an emphasis on a variety of themes throughout the year, that also includes family activities such as a shared harvest meal at Thanksgiving time, a Holiday Party, and a graduation ceremony for our Seniors at the end of the school year.

“We know our kids are already exposed to gadgets and all sorts of technology,” pointed out Ms. Angel, “So we take a back-to-basics approach where the kids are encouraged to play—just play.” She added, “Providing a block of time for kids to play while supervised allows them to make choices, develop social skills, and improve their small and large motor skills.”

Ask any of the preschoolers what their favorite activities are and you will most likely hear it is the play-dough, blocks, dress-up, and making friends.

To say Ms. Sue and Ms. Angel find being preschool teachers rewarding is an understatement. Being a part of the children’s lives on a daily basis is truly a fulfilling experience. When asked what her most rewarding experience was as a preschool teacher, “It was walking into my very first graduation ceremony. I was all prepared with my speech, my slideshow, everything. I felt completely prepared,” Ms. Angel reminisced. “It wasn’t until I was walking into the room when I realized the children were moving onto their next step in their lives and I wouldn’t get to see them every week anymore. It was a big step – I had such a hard time giving the speech that first time. Ms. Sue had to help me.”

Watching the children return to the Community Center year after year even after graduating the preschool program fills Ms. Sue with a sense of joy and accomplishment.

“The kids will come up to me even as teenagers and ask how I’ve been and we share stories of what’s been going on in our lives,” Ms. Sue expressed, “It really emphasizes that we are a family and a community. Even though we’re not related we’re so tight knit that they remember us. To me, that’s truly symbolic of what our program represents.”

Curious to learn more? We recently interviewed Ms. Angel as part of our “Meet Our Staff” series on our blog. Find out more about Ms. Angel and what brought her to the preschool program here.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. For more information visit us at ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

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