Bridges Preschool’s further expansion in the East Valley in the last few months is opening plenty of doors — not just for young children, but high school students as well.
In October, Bridges opened locations in both Mesa and Queen Creek. The Queen Creek campus, at 20635 Old Ellsworth Road, opened in a previous preschool site that Bridges took over from the couple retiring from operating it. That campus will hold a community grand opening on March 23.
The Mesa location opened on the campus of the East Valley Institute of Technology, 1601 W. Main St. There, the school offers preschool for little ones, but also offers a hands-on training for students in EVIT’s early childhood education program.
Alondra Diaz is a student at the East Valley Institute of Technology. She spent a few days last month writing lessons plans, with a focus on journaling, letter writing and rotation. For the 2- and 3-year olds in her class, what Diaz put together really looked more like time to play with ovals, colors and the letter “I”.
Diaz comes to EVIT daily from Queen Creek High School where she is a senior.
At EVIT, she’s completing her first year in the early childhood education program, where she’s learning about how to set up a preschool class in the setting of a professional preschool.
Bridges Preschool is still enrolling preschool students on the EVIT campus. Families can bring their children there daily to learn under the tutelage of a professional instructor, while getting extra attention from the high school students who assist.
Tay Lintala teaches the 2-to-3-year-old students. She transferred from another Bridges campus to open the new school. Besides teaching the little ones, she took on the role of raising a new generation of childcare workers, educators, coaches and more.
“I mentor them and teach them the ins and outs of preschool and little techniques of being a good childcare provider,” she said. “They help with clean up, setting up and lesson planning. Basically, they’re a younger version of me.”
Classes are available for children ages 1 through 5, with plans to open a kindergarten. Full-day care is available, too. All professional teachers at Bridges have a degree or are earning a degree in early childhood education or other child development program.
EVIT offers occupation training to high school students from 10 different school districts. Programs range from early childhood education to culinary arts to HVAC.
While the toddlers and preschoolers learn Spanish, sign language and how to get along with each other, the teens are observing and put what they learn in their EVIT classes into practice.
Each semester, the students take classes with their EVIT instructors and rotate through the Bridges Preschool for their hands-on learning, with a new set of teens helping the preschoolers every two weeks.
Diaz hopes to take what she’s learning and apply it to a future career in child psychology.
“I learn about kids and get to play with kids,” she said of her EVIT class. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a teacher, but I like psychology, too, so I combined them together.”
Their coursework covers health and safety in preschool settings, childhood nutrition and safe environments for ids.
“The think I learned is it takes a lot to make a room come together and be a good environment for a kids,” she said.
Gilbert High School junior Jaimee Berger, 16, is also in her first year in EVIT’s early childhood education program.
She already knows she wants to be a sixth-grade teacher and has plans to mentor in the class of her former sixth-grade teacher.
The nice thing, she said, is what she’s learning today will give her a head start for college.
“We’re learning about development and how fast they grow,” she said.
But her favorite part is still, “playing with the children.”
For more information and to schedule a tour of Bridges, call (480) 461-6746 or visit www.bridgespreschool.com.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or firstname.lastname@example.org