23 Mar Reaching New Levels with Growing Minds
Located on 4.5 acres in Earlysville, Virginia, Ms. Alison’s Kangaroo Preschool provides play-based, individualized learning with an emphasis on time spent in nature. Owner and lead teacher Alison Trimpe opened her school in 2015 after teaching Elementary and Pre-K in Australia, the UK, and the US. Trimpe had a vision for her school and, while it has evolved over the years, she has remained loyal to key tenets: play-based, hands-on learning that encourages exploration and exposure to new things.
“I really wanted to create a preschool that had play-based learning. I wanted the children to have a really fun time where the learning was kind of snuck in.”
Over the past seven years, Trimpe has been committed to professional development and has participated in countless trainings for early learning educators. It was during one of these trainings that she was first connected with ReadyKids and the Growing Minds Program. Growing Minds improves the quality of early childhood care and preschool settings by offering professional development, coaching, training and support to early childhood teachers and program leaders.
When Trimpe began working with the Growing Minds program, she met with Jennifer Fry, a Senior Early Learning Specialist at ReadyKids. Fry learned about the Kangaroo School’s curriculum, class materials, and indoor and outdoor environments. After getting to know the preschool and it’s curriculum, Fry connected Trimpe with professional development resources and the two worked together to adjust and expand her program.
“I’m so glad I reached out to ReadyKids; they have really enhanced my program. I don’t think I would be sitting here and would have achieved so much and experienced so much growth if I hadn’t been coached by ReadyKids.”
Since opening the Kangaroo Preschool, Trimpe has been participating in Virginia Quality, a quality improvement program for early learning educators based on four nationally recognized standards and practices; education and qualifications, curriculum and assessment, environment, and interactions. The program uses a rating scale of five compounding levels, with the Level 5 being the highest designation. Each tier can take multiple years to achieve, as educators must reach certain levels of education, complete trainings, meet curriculum requirements, and more. With seven years of hard work and coaching from Fry, Trimpe has earned a Level 4 designation. Her dedication to growth doesn’t stop there, she is currently participating in a ten hour Conscious Discipline training with Fry.
Throughout the pandemic, Trimpe worked to stay connected with her students even when they couldn’t be together in person. The Kangaroo Preschool was closed for six months in 2020, but Trimpe led weekly Zoom meetings that included a letter of the week and a short story. When she welcomed kids back to in-person preschool in the fall of 2020, she was able to hold classes outside where kids could enjoy the playground, garden, mud kitchen, nature trails, and even some feathered friends.
Currently, Trimpe continues to work closely with the Growing Minds program and Jennifer Fry. She is looking forward to warmer weather and exploring the nature trails with her students. To learn more about the Growing Minds program and find resources for early childhood educators, click here.