Virginia Education Leaders Discuss Program for At-Risk Youth

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Shining Star classroom Shining Star classroom
Erika Viccellio Erika Viccellio

Preschool teachers in Albemarle County are encouraging elected officials to pay attention to the need for better education in at-risk communities.

The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) says pockets of extreme poverty can be found in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and many of those areas continue to grow.

Poverty is an at-risk factor that often affects a child's performance in school.

VECF hosted Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and a member of the First Lady's Office of Virginia at the Jefferson Area Board for Aging's Shining Star Preschool program Tuesday, February 6.

Shining Stars serves prekindergarten children dealing with risk factors like low income, developmental delays, and language barriers. JABA’s program helps kids who did not get into other, public preschool programs – like Bright Stars.

VCEF says having the state contribute financially to programs like these help provide more seats for preschool programs.

"This has been a partnership to elevate the quality of preschool in private centers and throughout the community, and then to use public dollars and private dollars to place more children in those high-quality centers," said Erika Viccellio with the Early Education Task Force.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County's superintendents, Rosa Atkins and Pam Moran also visited the Bright Stars classroom Tuesday.

Teachers with the preschool program tell NBC29 they hope to see more similar program opportunities worked into the city and county budgets in the next ten years.