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Thank you for making the inaugural United Way Relay a great success! The Relay raised more than $50,000 for health equity and access. We are grateful for your participation.

Check out some of the photos from the day and the results.   


Early Education Task Force - News



June 16, 2017          Preschool symposium showcases regional collaboration, research
May 10, 2017 County supervisors, School Board hear United Way briefing on early childhood services
January 29, 2017

UVa researchers recommend exploring private investment for funding pre-K for 3-year-olds


December 3, 2016 Early childhood programs benefitting from public-private funding, partnerships
September 8, 2016 Taskforce report shows positive signs for local pre-K
August 13, 2016 State grant boosts public-private preschool efforts
August 4, 2016 Local schools and early childhood services partner for longterm improvement
August 4, 2016 United Way receives $250,000 Grant to Improve Local Access to Quality Early Education
June 8, 2016 Quality, uniting services focus of preschool symposium
June 6, 2016 Families making the move from waiting list to preschool classrooms
May 10, 2016 County supervisors, School Board hear United Way briefing on early childhood services
March 30, 2016 Local pre-K programs could get boost from state
March 10, 2016 Albemarle pre-K programs highlight successes, challenges
February 17, 2016 Localities receive grant for 25 more pre-K seats
February 3, 2016 Albemarle eyeing performance of pre-K program graduates

May 25, 2015   Groups increase pre-K access with innovative programs
April 23, 2015 Area leaders hear urgency at pre-K summit


Many thanks to Charlottesville Tomorrow for your excellent coverage of this important issue.



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8:30-9AM Continental Breakfast

9-10AM Keynote address with Bridget Hamre PhD, Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), University of Virginia

Recent research highlight major shifts in kindergarten settings over the last fifteen years – kindergarten children spend more time focused on early academic skills, sitting in whole group lessons, and less time playing. These findings have re-invigorated debates about how young children should spend their time in early childhood classrooms. In this presentation I will draw from recent research to illustrate the ways in which trends in preschool and kindergarten classroom practice signify important opportunities to challenge young children to develop key early academic skills as well as barriers to fully supporting children’s learning and development. I will focus on concrete steps administrators, coaches, and teachers can take to help ensure that children’s experiences in the early years of school best reflect what we know about how young children learn and thrive.

10:15-11:45AM Concurrent Breakout Sessions (Choose One to attend)

ENGLIGH LANGUAGE LEARNERS IN THE CLASSROOM. Natalia Palacios, PhD.  This breakout session will focus on the needs of dual language learners (DLLs). The presentation will cover a wide range of topics facing linguistically diverse students, their families, and their teachers as children transition from home to school, including: the changing linguistic demography of the US, the normative language development of DLLs, the instructional needs of DLLs, issues of assessment, cultural sensitivity and parental engagement. 

CELEBRATE YOUR SENSES!  A MULTISENSORY APPROACH TO LESSON PLANNING.  Sheila Chrobak, M.S.  Multisensory play is critical to every child's overall development, including communication skills, and every early childhood educator has the opportunity to include activities that attend to all of our senses as they arrange their environment and plan their lessons.  In this presentation we will explore play and lesson planning through the 5 traditional senses as well as some hidden senses- vestibular and proprioception.  We will discover how important attending to and integrating these senses is and how exploring through all of these senses supports important skills including language and vocabulary development, bilateral coordination, auditory processing, physical and emotional modulation.  With hands on opportunities to experience first hand how a multisensory lesson plan looks and feels, this presentation is perfect for any early childhood educator.  At the end of the session, participants will be able to work through environmental arrangement, materials preparation, and activities for age appropriate theme based multisensory lesson planning.  Additionally, they will be able to recognize areas of strength/weakness in relation to sensory processing skills, how these may impact future skills development, and how they may facilitate these skills in the child care setting and with home based recommendations.

MATH THROUGH ACTIVE LEARNING ACROSS THE PRESCHOOL DAY. Sandy Slack, M.Ed. This workshop will focus on math content rich materials and adult support through the use of intentional vocabulary and conversations across an appropriate typical preschool day. You will practice these skills and leave with practical ideas. 

SUPPORTING TEACHERS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CLASSROOMS.  Rebecca Berlin, PhD.  Just as three and four year olds are physically, cognitively, and socially different than six and seven year olds, so are the early childhood classrooms in which they spend their day. Children this age learn best through play instead of through worksheets, rote instruction, and homework. The learning looks different, the curriculum looks different, and the teaching looks different. As a result, the observing and supporting of early learning teachers looks different than when working with their elementary counterparts.  Join us to discuss observation strategies including how to best observe play and teacher-child interactions. This presentation is designed for principals, child-care administrators and anyone in the role of supporting teachers in classrooms.  

THE LOCAL LANDSCAPE - A CONVERSATION ABOUT EARLY EDUCATION IN OUR COMMUNITY.  Erika Viccellio, M.Ed, United Way and Jan Dorman, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.  Roundtable discussion about initiatives of the Early Education Task Force including fiscal map report, mixed delivery pilot, and the Outcome Collaborative.

12PM Early Educator Appreciation Luncheon with Superintendents Dr. Rosa Atkins and Dr. Pam Moran.  All symposium participants are welcome to attend the luncheon!

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Early Education Task Force

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The community of Charlottesville-Albemarle believes that a robust, inclusive, high-quality early childhood educational program is a key ingredient in preparing at-risk children for kindergarten and closing the achievement gap over time.  Further, the community believes that, over time, investments in educational and prevention programs will reduce future, greater expenditures in remediation and rehabilitation.

Quality early education is but one critical investment required to increase the likelihood of positive, long-term outcomes for at-risk children, but it is achievable, actionable, and quantifiable.


Every child in Charlottesville-Albemarle living with risk factors that impact success in life will have access to a high-quality early education program. This clear vision is unclouded by concerns over funding and is endorsed by our City and County Executives, City and County School Superintendents, and the United Way Smart Beginnings Impact Team.

Specifically, in the near term, we seek to address the need for at-risk four-year olds, realizing that the expansion of services to three-year olds, younger children and whole families makes a difference and serves as a longer-term aspirational goal.  The current estimate of the gap between the number of City and County four-year olds eligible for access to high-quality pre-k programs and available space is 150.

Read more about the work of the Early Education Task Force here.

See more from our Early Education Symposium (June 2016) here.

Task Force Members

Erika Viccellio – Executive Vice President, United Way (Chair)

Jan Dorman - Charlottesville Area Community Foundation Finance Director (Co-Chair)

Barbara Hutchinson – Vice President Community Impact Programs, United Way & Smart Beginnings

Ann McAndrew - Coordinator, Albemarle County Bright Stars (Pre-K)

Bill Letteri - Deputy County Executive, Albemarle County

Mike Murphy - Assistant City Manager, Charlottesville

Dean Tisdadt - Chief Operations Officer, Albemarle County Schools

Sheila Sparks - Charlottesville City Schools Pre-K Coordinator

Jacki Bryant – Executive Director, ReadyKids

Harriet Kaplan - Executive Director, MACAA Head Start

Judy Smith - Retired Executive Director, Jefferson Area CHIP

Mary Stebbins - Assistant Director, Albemarle County Department of Social Services

Sarah McLean – Aduivans Foundation

Blair Kelly - Entrepreneur

Rebecca Berlin – Interim CEO, Teachstone


Key Advocates and Keepers of the Vision

Jeff Richardson - Albemarle County Executive

Maurice Jones - Charlottesville City Manager

Pam Moran - Albemarle County Superintendent of Schools

Rosa Atkins - City of Charlottesville Superintendent of Schools

Cathy Train - President, United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area

Tim Hulbert - President, Chamber of Commerce

Frank Friedman - President, Piedmont Virginia Community College

Jan Dorman - Director of Finance, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF)

Bob Pianta - Dean, UVa Curry School of Education

Kathy Glazer - President, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation

Mike Chinn - President, S&P Global, Chair, Smart Beginnings Impact Team (ex-officio)


For more information, contact Erika Viccellio, Executive VP at 434.972.1713 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



Symposium on High Quality Preschool - Speaker Biographies


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Bridget Hamre

Bridget Hamre, Ph.D. is an Associate Research Professor and Associate Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).  Dr. Hamre’s areas of expertise include student-teacher relationships and classroom processes that promote positive academic and social development for young children and she has authored numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts on these topics.  This work documents the ways in which early teacher-child relationships and teachers' social and instructional interactions with children support children's development and learning and may help close the achievement gap for students at risk of school failure. Dr. Hamre works closely with federal, state, and local early childhood leaders to help bridge the research to practice divide and is currently working closely with VDOE and 13 school divisions in their implementation of preschool expansion in Virginia.  Dr. Hamre received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her masters and doctorate in clinical and school psychology from the University of Virginia.


Natalie Pacarios

Natalia Palacios is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science Program at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She received her B.A. in psychology from Brown University, her Ph.D. in human development and social policy at Northwestern University, where she was Institute for Education Science Predoctoral fellow and an American Psychological Association Mental Health Predoctoral fellow. Her research focuses on the school readiness and academic achievement of children from low-income, minority or immigrant backgrounds, with particular attention to linguistically diverse Latino children and families. 

Sheila Chrobak

Sheila Chrobak.  My passion is in the play! I love the challenges that come along with individualizing a program for each child and finding activities and materials that inspire the child, the family and me. The "work" of childhood is all about exploration, hands on experiences, trial and error, moving and grooving! I take pride in my unique approach to speech-language therapy services and in recognizing the influences of the "whole" child on their targets and progress within sessions. My private practice evolved out of a desire to be able to truly meet the constantly changing needs of each client and family.  I strive to offer flexibility in my programming in order to maximize speech language therapy opportunities for all families.  The duration, frequency, and design of each individual's speech language therapy is unique. Over the past 20 years I have had wonderful opportunities to serve a wide variety of children in all types of settings. My experiences have allowed me to collaborate with a range of professionals including pediatricians, neurologists, neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and classroom teachers. I have enjoyed presenting at conferences, publishing an article, mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, and creating a variety of therapeutic activities to support my clients’ growth and development. I hold a Master of Science Degree in Speech Language Therapy from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Education in Speech Pathology and Audiology from The University of Virginia.  I am certified by the Virginia Board of Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).  Additionally, I am a certified ChildLight Yoga® Instructor and enjoy integrating yoga practice into my speech language therapy sessions.

Sandy Slack

Sandy Slack began her long career in early childhood education as a Head Start lead teacher.  After earning a master's degree from George Washingotn University in early childhood special education,s he began a 30 year career with Lynchburg VA City Schools  Sandy spearheaded the first inclusion placements for children with disabilities in a local preschool program.

HighScope field consultant for 23 years

Author: MAKE ROOM FOR BOYS, 2015

Lynchburg City Schools 30 years: ECSE teacher, grant writer, grant coordinator for K-5 Elementary School

Rebecca Berlin

Dr. Rebecca Berlin is the Chief Strategy Officer at Teachstone and in this role works with states and school districts to implement the CLASS system and sets Teachstone’s strategic direction.  Rebecca has worn many hats in her professional life.  She has worked in public and private schools as an early interventionist, an early childhood teacher, an early childhood special education teacher, an autism specialist, and a school administrator. She holds a PhD in Research, Policy, and Administration from the University of Virginia and has worked at UVA as a teacher preparation faculty member and researcher.  Rebecca is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences speaking on improving teacher child interactions and the quality of birth to five education.



Dr. Rosa Atkins became Superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools in July 2006. She oversees a division with an annual operating budget of $70 million, with about 425 teachers educating more than 4,000 students in nine schools. During Dr. Atkins’ tenure, Charlottesville City Schools has become one of the top performing school divisions in the state with a graduation completion index of 89%. Charlottesville High School has earned the reputation of having one of the best Advanced Placement programs in the area. This spring, CHS students scored 3 or higher on 74% of the AP exams taken. Dr. Atkins is committed to the proposition that America is strong and vibrant because of its public school system. Her breadth of experience spans urban, suburban and rural settings. Dr. Atkins has worked closely with refugee and homeless children. In 2011, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) named Dr. Atkins the Region V Superintendent of the Year. She then went on to earn the accolade Superintendent of the Year for the entire state of Virginia. That same year, her alma mater honored her as the Virginia State University Alumnus of the Year for Professional Education. Dr. Atkins also served as President of the Women Education Leaders in Virginia, from 2010-2011. Currently, Dr. Atkins serves on the VASS Board of Directors; is past-chair of their Region V Superintendents Study Group; is Vice-President of the Urban Superintendents Association of America; as well as sits on a number of local, state and national committees and boards. Dr. Atkins’ career in public education includes serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, Director of Leadership Development, Director of Instruction, and Assistant Superintendent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Virginia State University, as well as a master’s degree in both Special Education and Administration & Supervision. Dr. Atkins received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Policy from Virginia Tech.


Dr. Pamela Moran has served as the Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools since January 2006. She oversees a division with an annual operating budget of $160 million, with more than 1,200 teachers educating over 13,600 students in 26 schools. During Dr. Moran’s tenure, Albemarle County Public Schools has become one of the top performing school divisions in the state with an on-time graduation rate of 93 percent. The performance of its students on Advanced Placement tests ranks the division in the top three percent of all school divisions in the U.S. and Canada, according to a recent report by the College Board. Dr. Moran has long had a commitment to providing broad-based and innovative learning opportunities for students, believing that excellence in multiple disciplines provides students with the skills essential to becoming successful as citizens, in the workforce, and in post-secondary education.




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