Early Learning Programs lead students to success
Posted on 10/31/2022
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Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello, I'm Maria Vasquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, and this is Mondays with Maria. Today we're talking about early learning. High quality VPK programs allow young children an opportunity to develop early literacy skills, oral language skills, and social emotional skills supporting kindergarten readiness success. In fact, according to the National Education Association, children who participate in high quality early childhood education programs are less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to be identified as having special needs, are more prepared academically for later grades, are more likely to graduate high school, are higher wage earners, and it helps prepare them for kindergarten. So we have a special guest with us today. He is no stranger to Orange County Public Schools. Welcome, Dr. Scott Fritz. You're the Chief Executive Officer for the Early Learning Coalition.

Dr. Scott Fritz: Yes. Yes.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: We were so happy you were able to join us today. Could you tell us about the Early Learning Coalition and what it offers to our families?

Dr. Scott Fritz: Absolutely. We are a resource for our families. We connect families with high-quality childcare centers. We also provide guidance with financial assistance to our families that are in need. We are the one stop shop for our families looking for zero to five care for their children.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So could you tell us the importance of early childhood programs?

Dr. Scott Fritz: Yes. That zero to five years is actually the most important time in a child's development. Those first 2000 days is when their brain actually grows at a faster rate than any other time in life. And during that time, every experience a child has is their first experience. So that's where learning really occurs.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Of course, in Florida we have voluntary pre-kindergarten or VPK programs. There are 126 VPK classrooms offered in the district at 85 of our schools. Additionally, there are five high schools offering early childhood education programs under the Career Technical Education Department. This year, the high school Early Childhood education programs are offered at the following schools, Apopka, Cypress Creek, East River, Freedom, and Timber Creek. We also have a lot of resources on our website,, including answers to frequently asked questions. So, Dr. Fritz, could you tell us what are the biggest misconceptions about early learning?

Dr. Scott Fritz: The biggest misconception is that their childcare is not education, and zero to five is an extremely important time for K-12 success. So the better experiences that children have, zero to five, that academic learning that they get, particularly as they go into their VPK programs, that really does lead to success in the K12 experience.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So Scott, if our families wanted to learn more about the Early Learning Coalition, where could they go?

Dr. Scott Fritz: They should visit our [email protected] and most of their questions should be able to be answered.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Well, it's so good to see you and I'm so happy you were able to join us today. Thank you,

Dr. Scott Fritz: Thank you Maria.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Thank you all for watching. Let me know what's on your mind. Remember to connect with me through thought exchange. I want everyone to be part of our conversations and I'll see you next week.

Nancy Alvarez: Hi everyone. Nancy Alvarez here. Early Learning Coalition is really such a great organization. And now guess what? We have a bonus Mondays with Maria for you, a fun segment with your superintendent. We hope you enjoy it. Take a look.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello, I'm Maria Vasquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, and this is Mondays with Maria.

Nancy Alvarez: Hi everybody. I'm Nancy Alvarez. I don't know how it happened, but Jamie has the day off. Um, happened pretty quickly. We just got here and he is already got a day, but it's okay. I showed up. Yeah.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Well, we have been keeping him very busy. Um, I understand you have more questions for me?

Nancy Alvarez: Yes, we do. So we thought it would be fun to do rapid fire question segment with you. Have you heard of this fun way to get to know somebody? It's, it's kind of cool.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Well, I've heard of it. I don't know if it's going to be fun until I hear the questions. Nancy Alvarez: Okay. This is going to be great. I feel like I'm in a game show with these cards. Uh, super easy. You answer with the first response that comes to your mind. That's it. Okay. Ready? Okay. And we're going go fast.
Nancy Alvarez: Cats or Dogs? Dr. Maria Vazquez: Dogs. Nancy Alvarez: Summer or winter?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Winter. Nancy Alvarez: Morning or evening? Dr. Maria Vazquez: Evening. Nancy Alvarez: Salty, or sweet?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Sweet. Nancy Alvarez: Do you watch shows one episode at a time or binge the whole season? Dr. Maria Vazquez: Binge.

Nancy Alvarez: Would you rather fly or have super strength? Dr. Maria Vazquez: Fly. Nancy Alvarez: Superior physical strength or mental strength?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Mental.

Nancy Alvarez: Do you prefer driving or flying?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Flying. Nancy Alvarez: Would you rather travel to the past or to the future?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Past.

Nancy Alvarez: Are you more of a thinker or a doer?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Doer.

Nancy Alvarez: Book or movie?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Book.

Nancy Alvarez: Learn by watching or learn by doing?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Doing.

Nancy Alvarez: Are you more cautious or bold?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hmm… Probably cautious.

Nancy Alvarez: Action movie or romantic drama?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Romance.

Nancy Alvarez: Chocolate or vanilla?

Dr. Maria Vazquez : Oh, chocolate!

Nancy Alvarez: Sunrise or sunset?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Sunrise.

Nancy Alvarez: Cake or pie?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hmm. That's a hard one. Both.

Nancy Alvarez: Both. That's, I'll take both for that. I can't blame you. Coffee or tea?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Coffee.

Nancy Alvarez: East coast or west coast?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: East.

Nancy Alvarez: Beach or pool?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Pool. Pool. Pool.

Nancy Alvarez: Beef or fish? Dr. Maria Vazquez: Fish.

Nancy Alvarez: Truth or dare.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Truth. Nancy Alvarez:

Cook for yourself or order in?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Order in.

Nancy Alvarez : That was fun. Dr. Vasquez, thank you for inviting me to be a part of this conversation, being a good sport about all this stuff we're putting you through. I hope everyone knows a little bit more about their new superintendent.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Thank you all for watching. We're going to continue these conversations and remember to look for the Thought Exchange emails and on our social media channels. I want everyone to be part of our conversations. I look forward to answering all of your questions in another episode. Stay tuned for more Mondays with Maria next week. See you soon. If you have a question or topic for Mondays with Maria, you can submit it on Thought Exchange at the link that is now on your screen.