Stories

Our research shows how LAUP makes a difference by the numbers. Up close, the stories of our students, families and professions show how quality preschool changes lives. Here are some stories of how LAUP has an impact in the preschool classroom and beyond.


Elijah Aranda has his sights set on a Ph.D.

Subhead: Elijah Aranda on a path to a Ph.D.

Name: Elijah Aranda
Age: Nine
LAUP preschool: Fowler Family Day Care, La Mirada, and Thurgood Marshall Elementary, Lynwood
Where is he now? Niemes Elementary Environmental Services & Technology Magnet, Artesia, 4th grade

“My son wants to go to college — he wants to go for his Ph.D. so he can be called Dr. Aranda”. – Johanna Aranda – LAUP Parent

Elijah is involved in tennis and in the Reading Olympics at school. He’s a straight-A, award-winning student who has been recognized as “Student of the Month” every year from preschool to 3rd grade.

“I enjoy science the most. Also, I really love to read,” Elijah says. “I really like to learn about history, like ancient civilizations. I like to learn about mysterious things like Bigfoot or if they ever found Noah’s Ark.”

Elijah says he wants to be an inventor when he grows up. His long-term goals reinforce a recent study conducted by LAUP’s Research and Evaluation team: 95 percent of students reported a desire to continue their education beyond high school, with an impressive 42 percent of students indicating plans to continue their education all the way to a graduate degree.

Research shows that children who attend quality preschool are four times more likely to earn a college degree, stay employed longer and earn higher incomes.


One preschool, eight languages

Teremok Preschool owner Ana Shirokova encourages critical thinking as she asks children various questions while reading aloud during circle time. Photo by Rachael Stoffel / LAUP.
Teremok Preschool owner Ana Shirokova encourages critical thinking as she asks children various questions while reading aloud during circle time. Photo by Rachael Stoffel / LAUP.

Ana Shirokova triumphs in teaching children of multilingual backgrounds. In her school, Shirokova Family Child Care, children speak eight languages: Spanish, Hindu, Chinese, Russian, Ukranian, Amharic and more.

An environment like this has many language and cultural roadblocks. With a Russian heritage, site owner Shirokova brings a unique flair to the classroom. Song and dance is the common denominator to almost all of her teaching lessons. The children overcome language barriers through her teaching methods and they practice unity—a product of shoulder-to-shoulder learning. They are given a foundation where cultural barriers and biases don’t matter.

“Lass-oh the Moon,” Shirokova sounded out as she pointed at the picture art on the cover of the book she was reading to the children, drawing contagious giggles from her audience. The picture consisted of a cowboy dressed in footsie pajamas as he gazed at the moon as though it were a prize to be won.

“What do you think this book is about?” Shirokova asked. Answers bounced off the walls as the children made observations about the cowboy and his attire. “What is a lasso?” she continued, pointing at the looped-rope the pajama-clad cowboy was gripping. With no cue necessary, multiple children jumped to their feet to act out their version of cattle-roping, whooshing sound effects included.

A Ukrainian girl who had only been in the states for three to four months, participated enthusiastically.

“At the beginning of the year, she had no English,” Shirokova said. “She came here three to four months ago, and now she is teaching her parents key words.

“At this age, it actually isn’t as big of a deal if a child’s first language isn’t English and they are trying to learn English,” she explained. “Kids can express themselves with motions, gestures, laughter and embrace.”

“Making friends helps kids find language. As teachers, it’s our job to support them,” Shirokova said.

“One of the most important things you can teach these children is unity,” Shirokova said. That philosophy is stunning evident in the environment she has created.

“We may look different,” she said, surveying the room full of children and waving her hands towards them, “but as you can see, the children are not afraid to make connections with each other.”


LAUP dads advocate for quality early education on Capitol Hill

Since traveling to our nation’s capital last month to advocate for quality early education, Juan Singleton has been fervently spreading the word about his daughter’s positive experience in an LAUP preschool, the importance of enrolling all children in quality early education programs and the need for everyone to urge local, state and federal legislators to fund long-term early education in Los Angeles County.

“I’ve been to three or four churches, talked to some family members, and people at barber shops,” Singleton says. “When I was in Staples making copies (for flyers about LAUP) the other day, another customer immediately looked up the website and said she was going to follow through to learn more.”

In December, Singleton was part of a delegation of LAUP staff, parents (all three of whom were fathers), providers and representatives from First 5 LA and the Advancement Project that traveled to Washington, D.C. Delegation members held 36 meetings with members of the U.S. Congress and their staff, federal agencies, advocacy organizations, think tanks and foundations. Several meetings on Capitol Hill were with staff representing members of the L.A. Delegation and the House and Senate Education Committees.

This month, LAUP was able to catch up with two of the busy fathers—Juan Singleton and Damian Carroll—to get a glimpse of their experiences advocating for the future of early education.

LAUP: What LAUP preschool does your child attend?

CARROLL: “Van Nuys Civic Child Development Center.”

SINGLETON: “Bright Star Academic Preschool.”

LAUP: What is your child’s name/age? What is he/she like?

CARROLL: “Alice is 4 ½. She is an outgoing social butterfly who loves to talk with her teachers and classmates. We sometimes have a hard time keeping up with her at home, so we are very thankful that she has her preschool to keep her stimulated and energized. Our older daughter Molly is now in the third grade, and the benefits of preschool on her education have been evident from the very beginning. Molly was exceptionally prepared for kindergarten and thrived in a school environment. She loves learning and is able to focus and work well in groups at school. These are all skills LAUP helped her acquire. I’m confident that Alice will do well in school following her preschool experience this fall.”

SINGLETON: “My wife Lona and I have a four-year-old daughter named Jemima, and she is full of personality and loves learning. Even though she’s our only child, she’s learned how to share more because of preschool.”

LAUP: Please describe your experience advocating for LAUP and quality preschool in D.C. last month.

CARROLL: “I was invited to be a parent advocate in D.C. because my wife and I have two daughters who went through the program—one currently; the other four years ago. I was glad to have the opportunity to support a program that has been so beneficial for my kids and family. We met with staff members of several Congress members and Senators who, across the board, were courteous and interested to hear from us. We were pleased to see that Congressmembers like Janice Hahn and Lucille Roybal Allard were already aware of LAUP preschools in their districts. One of the ways Congress can help preschool programs is by funding Child Care and Development Block Grants that support quality early childhood education. We were pleased to hear not long after our arrival in D.C. that the “cromnibus” bill was expected to contain a renewal of this funding, so we thanked all of the members for their support.”

SINGLETON: “For me, it was exciting, it was refreshing, it was fulfilling. I was born and raised partially in D.C., but had never been in the halls of Congress. To actually sit down with Congress members and their staff members and share why this issue is important to me, to parents, was very special.”

LAUP: Why is it important for parents to advocate for early education?

CARROLL: “Just by chance, the three parents (on the) trip were all dads. It was obvious our testimony had a great impact in these meetings, because the elected officials and their staff could see that our children had been personally impacted by LAUP. Having the voices of participating parents helps convince politicians that these programs are not just good on paper, but make a difference in the real world.”

SINGLETON: “I try to inform as many people as I can about LAUP and the success our daughter is experiencing through this program. I tell people how important it is to vote for state and federal officials, and to find out where they stand on. We have to make sure we’re putting politicians in office who are putting early education right up there at the top of their priority lists.”



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