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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

High quality preschool environment brings out the best in Goodyear girl

kids-playing-chessZoe Mullins was only 4 years old when she began beating her father at chess.

“It’s not that her dad is a bad player, but that Zoe is just that good,” giggles her mother Lisa Mullins.

Zoe attended the Goddard School in Goodyear from the early age of 3 months old.

Goddard participates in Quality First, a signature program of First Things First which, partners with child care and preschool providers to improve the quality of early learning across Arizona.

Finding a quality early learning center is a challenge many parents face. Quality is one of the most important factors to consider, as research shows that quality early learning settings help children develop skills that are crucial to their success now and once they enter school. Mullins, an attorney, and her husband, Courtney, a mental health professional, spent many months searching for a good fit for their daughter just before she was born.

“We checked several places and we were not very encouraged,” Lisa said. “During one tour a provider even informed us that at the infant stage ‘she was not expected to learn much.’ We strongly disagreed with this analysis and thankfully found Goddard.”

The school offered Zoe a warm and engaging environment. This year, Zoe entered kindergarten.

While Zoe is just beginning grade school, her parents are excited for Zoe’s future.

“We love to see our daughter learn,” Mullins said. “She began identifying sight words and reading at 3 years. Zoe is interested in science, engineering, technology, writing and creating stories. She loves to be challenged and understand how things work. We know that memorizing information is not good enough. Her learning experience is about understanding what you learn. Zoe is on the path to learning and understanding—with these skills her future is limitless.”

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