Welcome Jessica Mihaly, Director of Early Learning
MPCSD is proud to welcome Jessica Mihaly as its new Director of Early Learning, to lead the district's effort to create an early learning program opening in the fall of 2018. Ms. Mihaly comes to us with a wealth of experience in early childhood education, most recently with The Big Lift, a San Mateo county initiative to close the achievement gap among pre-K to third grade kids. In joining MPCSD as it builds its early learning program, Ms. Mihaly is most excited to take her passion for early learning as the “engine of social change” to create a "world-class program from the ground up, taking best practices from around the world and implementing them here." Ms. Mihaly recognizes that a robust early learning program is good for the entire MPCSD community by serving families across cultures and the economic spectrum, creating cross-community relationships, getting parents connected, and tapping into our shared values and cultures while getting all children ready for kindergarten.
Ms. Mihaly sees young children as the “promise of our nation,” and also recognizes that the majority of brain development happens before the age of 5, which is also a general time of well-being, openness to learning, and feeling safe. Giving young children a high-quality learning experience sets them up for a future of success in kindergarten and beyond. Our own kindergarten teachers see the wide gap in school readiness among those who have had early learning and those who have not. “The 30 million word gap is real,” Ms. Mihaly stresses, referring to the fewer number of words heard by children from lower-income families than higher-income families by the time they are four years old. The program MPCSD creates will work toward laying a foundation of educational equity across our community. With its new early learning program, MPCSD will help fill the need in the area for more high-quality early learning options.
As planning begins, the district’s vision for its early learning program is taking shape. Ms. Mihaly sees a program interweaving aspects of design and innovation, and project-based learning, with a comprehensive parent education component, too. Ms. Mihaly’s own passion for the environment and outdoor pursuits like hiking (with her rescue dog, Skai) and “enjoying the natural beauty of our region” will inform the program as she hopes it includes a robust outdoor classroom environment, world languages, and inclusion of multi-generational learning.
Over the next few months, Ms. Mihaly will be visiting exemplary programs in the Bay Area, tapping into her extensive network of early learning experts and advocates, and working with our MPCSD community. We will be ready to offer a much-needed and well-designed early learning experience in the Fall of 2018 that can become a model for other public school districts in the state as we work together to make sure all kids come to kindergarten ready and excited for a lifetime of educational success.