By Phinis Jones
Parents are looking for a childcare program that will provide a safe, nurturing learning environment. Vision of Victory Child Development Center provides that need that every parent desires. Vision of Victory has a program that ensures the needs of every child are met. The leadership of the center believes that one on the key components of a child having a successful day is for every child to start the day with a well-balanced meal in a safe environment and the program provides a healthy breakfast daily for each child. After morning breakfast the children are ready to start a day full of fun and learning.
The learning program is an interactive process that involves continuous opportunities for exploration and interactions. Infants and toddlers have age-appropriate equipment for both inside and outside spaces that are separate from older children. Room arrangements at Vision of Victory allow for both quiet and active play; dramatic and messy play; large group activities, and individual care and multiple sets of the same toys are provided in order to prevent conflicts. Toys and books are available for access at the child’s level to promote independent choosing and use. Vision of Victory’s high quality program bases the arrangement of classrooms on the facilitation of learning by young children rather than on the preferences of the teacher.
The Executive Director of Vision of Victory CDC, Ms. LaRuby May, has many goals for the children at her center. One of these goals is to ensure that every child has a solid academic foundation once they leave her program. Ms. May said, “Every child must be able to identify their colors, numbers, shapes, and letters, before leaving the program.”
Vision of Victory also offers a program rich in developmentally appropriate literacy-based activities. Opportunities for shared reading time are part of each day and children are encouraged to enjoy books independently. The program promotes the development of language through the use of simple words and maintains a balance between listening and talking with the child.
Teachers create a learning environment that includes books and other printed material throughout the center. The use of songs, nursery rhymes, and finger play provide a context to promote the development of language and literacy. These are only a few of the requirements of the educational program. The students also learn Spanish and Sign Language as a part of the multicultural learning program. Moreover, the center is trying to close what research shows is a 32 million-word gap between children of working parents and those of none working parents.
As part of the literacy program, the center has African American males from all professions and backgrounds come and read to the children weekly. Recently, NFL Washington Redskins, Alfred Morris came to the center to help support this initiative.
Additionally, the program has partnered with the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF) to provide free tennis lessons to the two and three year old children in her program. This type of partnership is traditionally not found in low-income areas. Ms. May has worked very hard to expose her children to programs such as WTEF because she believes that early exposure to quality programs will help in the overall development of the child. Ms. May stated, “Every child, if given the right opportunities can be successful.”
Quality childcare programs must have highly qualified staff and the teachers at Vision of Victory all have their Child Development Associates Certification (CDA). In addition, many of the teachers are currently enrolled at one of our local universities working on their Associates degree in Early Childhood Education.
Ms. May believes that education is the key to true equality. Because of this belief, Ms. May requires her staff to attend monthly professional development classes in order to stay current with cutting edge child care practices. Every teacher holds a certificate in first aid/CPR for infants and toddlers.
There are many child development centers in the city, but none like Vision of Victory CDC. This child development center is leading the way in providing quality child care programs for some of our most needed and deserving children. By providing the foundation needed to build an academic platform that will propel our children to unstoppable heights, Ms. May believes that she is preparing the leaders of the next generation
The Vision of Victory Child Development center is located inside Allen Chapel AME Church. This great location provides an opportunity for the children to interact with the Senior Citizen ministry once a month. Ms. May and her students recently did a black history program for the Senior Citizen ministry where the students paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ms. May hopes to make this an ongoing event where once a month the children will perform for the Senior Citizen Ministry and/or allow for the seniors to read to and work with the students on various projects. Ms. May believes that senior citizens can play a vital role in the development of children in her program.
Ms. May is also interested in expanding the opportunities for the children at the center and has displayed this by exposing them to the District’s national symbols. Just before President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, Ms. May sent a group of students to the White House. She said, “It is important that the youth of today know that we have a Black president in office and this is an experience I believe the children should feel and remember as they are growing up.”
Many native Washingtonian’s grow up in the nation’s capital, but never get the opportunity to visit the White House among other national treasures this great city has to offer. Allowing the children to visit the White House is a true semblance of investment Ms. May has in her students. In the early 1950’s a young African- American child was unable to attend schools with their White counterparts across America, but certainly would have not been allowed to enter through the doors of the White House. That has changed and Ms. May is allowing her students to take advantage of this great opportunity!
This year, I adopted one classroom at Vision of Victory CDC to pour back into the community and be an example for other parents, grandparents and friends of the center. I encourage as many nearby residents and parents to do the same!