Kindergarten Student, Valentina on a small group class meeting, on Zoom.

Roughly three weeks.

That’s how much time remains in the school year for most Arizona school districts.

In efforts to continue to support their students, teachers have transferred their lessons to various online platforms. At the start of quarantine and a statewide shutdown of schools, teachers, in just a matter of a few days, were asked to (and somehow able to) scramble for online lesson development and to enable parents with the ability to maintain their kids’ learning. For many, spring break was the last time students saw their classmates and teacher. …

In the past few months I’ve been able to gain valuable insight on how the Early Childhood and Early Education sectors are viewed by those not embedded within it. Throughout my career I’ve spent countless hours “pitching” (selling, justifying, convincing etc.) the importance of my work and the work of others in the early childhood field to funders, community stakeholders and the population in general.

I didn’t truly, fully realize until now just how much it involves a similar approach as is found in the startup world, and in the business world in general.

Years ago I would never have…

I recently finished up my last 2018 podcast episode for the Early Childhood Journeys Podcast. It was with Kareem Neal, the AZ Educational Foundations Teacher of the Year recipient! He asked me if I also wanted to chat with the Ambassadors for Excellence and of course I could not pass up the opportunity to have these inspiring and amazing teachers pushing for progressive education all in one room!

As I reflect back on my conversation with all of them, I am left with a renewed spirit of hope for the coming year for Arizona students(at least). So many great observations…

(from Disney’s Coco Pixar)

I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of watching Disney Pixar’s animated film, “Coco” and seeing Mexican spirit animals, aka “Alebrijes”, represented so well. Alebrijes are fun, imaginary, brightly-colored and legendary creatures from Mexican culture. They can be captivating for any child, and even in the inner child in all of us. If you have young students, you’ve probably experienced this popular film’s influence trickle into your classroom at some point too. With the animation, colors, storyline and more, there is bound to be discussion among your students who have seen it.

As a first generation Mexican-American, this movie especially…

Kindergarten Classroom Redesign- Science Learning Area

Almost 3 years ago, I was asked to join a grant-funded project, traveling and training (among my many other tasks) to implement some much-needed Kindergarten training modules developed by Alesi Group. This entailed highly customized technical support to help prepare 3,600 Kindergarten teachers for a true formative assessment tool that the Arizona Department of Education was rolling out.

At the time, I needed a mental health break from my position serving as a Children’s Shelter Program Manager at a residential crisis-care facility. It was 8 years of work in the social services sector, and it was starting to weigh heavily…

This conversation is a transcription from the Early Childhood Journeys Podcast Episode 33 where I sat down for an audio recording with Adrienne Ledford, Director of the Tucson teacher resource, Treasures 4 Teachers of Tucson. This 100% volunteer run, non-profit store is worth learning about!

Start of recording transcript:

[Marissa] Okay, welcome everybody to another Early Childhood Journeys podcast episode. I’m so excited to announce I’m coming to you from Tucson today, and I’m joined by my next guest, Adrienne Ledford with Treasures 4 Teachers of Tucson. Let me give you guys some background of how I connected with Adrienne…

I’ve been in the Early Childhood field for over 20 years, so I’ve experienced a lot in my day after beginning my career straight out of high school. I’ve had different types of roles: from direct care, to administrative, to leadership positions overseeing programs and employees.

So when I was told that I was receiving recognition for my work, I was honestly speechless (this doesn’t happen often). One of my past podcast guests, Susana Ibarra-Johnson informed me that the Southeast Maricopa Regional Council for First Things First had named me as 2018’s Champion for Young Children. I was blindsided!


Pre-K age daughter, Valentina, at the CREATE at Arizona Science Center cardboard “gears” table.

Appreciating Educator Mr. D’s Energy and Spirit!

ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College T-Shirts

Last month I was able to attend a speakers event presented by ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton College of Education. The Fall Speaker was Mr. “D” aka Joe Dombrowski, a 4th grade teacher who is currently teaching in Chicago. His clever and very humorous classroom videos have been making their rounds in Social Media and have gained a lot of popularity. One of his more notable videos went viral and even caught the attention of the Ellen Degeneres Show:

As you can see, his use of making children’s learning experiences fun and engaging…

I recently attended the Arizona Department of Education's 3rd Annual Kindergarten Transition for All Children Summit on behalf of Alesi Group by hosting an info table to talk about our work with The Kindergarten Experience, as well as upcoming preschool workshops we’re beginning to offer to teachers and parents. During the all-day ADE conference, it was wonderful to reconnect with some old colleagues as well as getting some hugs from our awesome kindergarten teachers I’ve had the pleasure of working with through the workshops I’ve done throughout the state. …

Marissa Calderón

Zen, LOVE & Tacos, those are some of the things I enjoy. Plus my kids, husband and my Early Childhood Journeys Podcast and work in Early Ed. #LatinasInED

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