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Great Expectations

Through a Community of Practice Model, Great Expectations is committed to engaging early childhood educators in professional development that focuses on improving skills, sharing knowledge, and building relationships. A Community of Practice professional development allows educators to co-create knowledge together around an area of shared interest, interactive and applicable to everyday work with children. Great Expectations promotes systemic change by building a culturally responsive Professional Development System for early childhood practitioners while leading and facilitating Community of Practice coordinators with a focus on best practices in facilitation, instruction, and coaching.

The model was developed with intentionality based on the following philosophy and values:

  • Create a culture that education can be the expectation and not the exception in Pima County
  • Provide learning experiences and courses that are intentional, sequential, tied to a college credit option.
  • Offer cohort-based learning with hands-on experiences with intentional opportunities for implementing what was learned.
  • Present information in developmentally appropriate ways for adult learners.

Each Community of Practice engages in regular sessions throughout a series that run every year from August through June. Participants typically meet once a month for a minimum of nine sessions. Sessions are facilitated from 2 to 3 hours depending on the date and time of the week, in accessible locations and during flexible times for early childhood professionals. Participants also receive guidance in professional development goal planning and attainment as well as individualized job embedded coaching throughout the program year.


Learn More about our Communities of Practice

Project Best Community of Practice

Build high quality infant and toddler care and education, utilizing the Program for Infant Toddler Care curriculum.

 PITC Topics that are explored:

  • Theory and Practice of Early Care
  • Responsive Caregiving
  • Understanding Behavior
  • Culturally Responsive Care
  • Temperaments
  • Developmentally Appropriate Environment

Coordinator Contact:

    Creating Connections Community of Practice

    A unique learning experience focused on supporting infants and toddlers in group care and honoring their extraordinary journey of development in the first three years of life.

    This in-person and comprehensive community of practice will focus on infant and toddler development, building positive relationships and responsive caregiving among other topics essential in transforming the way infant and toddler care is provided in your programs.

    Take part in creating connections with fellow caregivers in your community and develop lasting bonds and supportive peer relationships.

    Coordinator Contact:

    • Amber Jones, M.Ed
    • 1-714-931-4641


    Linking Leaders Community of Practice

    A Needs-Based Coaching Approach used to support Early Childhood Education programs to raise the quality of the services offered to children and their families.

    Linking Leaders supports center directors and center owners in learning strategies that will support their staff in their professional growth.

    Topics Include:

    • Developmentally Appropriate Practice
    • Leadership skills
    • High-quality administrative practices

    Coordinator Contact:

    • Kathy Steele
    • Leadership Educator
    • 1-520-971-5592
    Inspire Inclusion Community of Practice

    Learn how to create developmentally appropriate inclusive early childhood education settings for early care and education professionals.


    • What is Inclusion?

    • Materials to Support Inclusion

    • Specific Learning Needs

    • Developmental Screenings

    • Working with Families

    • Strategies for Specific Disabilities

    • Speech and Language

    • Supporting Behavior

    • Modifications and Adaptation

    Coordinator Contact:

    Raising Resilience Community of Practice

    Engaging childcare professionals in learning about developmentally appropriate practices that promote recovery from trauma experienced through adverse early childhood experiences.

    Trauma-informed care for early childhood educators to assist in recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma to support young children in need of on-going and additional social-emotional supports.


    • Reflection
    • Discovery
    • Evidence Based Learning
    • Community
    • Self-Care Awareness
    • Regulation
    • Connection
    • Attachment Theory
    • Social-Emotional Skill Building
    • Classroom Strategies

    Coordinator Contact:

    The Story Project: Cuéntame, a Spanish language Community of Practice

    Building early childhood family childcare educators’ knowledge and skills related to how the whole child develops by promoting language and emergent early literacy.

    Desarrollar conocimientos y habilidades de los educadores de cuidado infantil familiar de la primera infancia relacionados con el desarrollo integral del niño mediante la promoción del lenguaje y la alfabetización temprana emergente.

     Como miembros de The Story Project, los proveedores de cuidado infantil:

    • forman parte de una comunidad donde aprendemos juntos
    • a través de una serie de talleres, entrenamientos y apoyo individual
    • todo facilitado por un especialista de alfabetización temprana

     Miembros recibirán materiales y libros de alta calidad para su programa y para los niños.

     ¡Talleres de desarollo profesional  que son divertidos, interactivos y llenos de aprendizaje!

    Note: The Cuéntame Community of Practice is offered to home-based childcare providers. / Nota: La Comunidad de Práctica de Cuéntame se ofrece a proveedores de cuidado infantil en el hogar.

    Coordinator Contact:

    Exploring STEAM Through Literacy for Ages Birth to Five Community of Practice

    Developmentally appropriate practices for engaging our youngest learners, using science, technology, engineering, art, and math while building rich and deep connections to other subject areas. Cohorts offered in English and Spanish.


    Prácticas apropiadas para el desarrollo para involucrar a nuestros estudiantes más jóvenes, utilizando la ciencia, la tecnología, la ingeniería, el arte y las matemáticas mientras construyen conexiones ricas y profundas con otras áreas temáticas. Cohortes se ofrecen en inglés y español.

     STEAM Topics Include:

    • Engineering Design/Diseño de Ingeniería
    • Magnets/Imanes
    • Color Exploration/Exploración del Color
    • Solar System/Sistema Solar
    • Rocks & Minerals/Rocas y Minerales
    • Weather/El Clima
    • Technology/Tecnología

    Coordinator Contact:

    • Amanda McPherson

    • Director of the STEMAZing Project

    • Pima County School Superintendent’s Office


    • 1-520-724-8395

    Building Early Childhood Foundations Community of Practice

    Early Childhood Education and Creating Child-Centered Environments

     Building Early Childhood Foundations supports early childhood educators in the importance of the development of the whole child from a culturally responsive perspective, as well as using approaches that are Developmentally Appropriate Practices.


    • Hands-on experiences
    • Powerful Interactions
    • Community and Family Collaboration
    • Emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development
    • Early Childhood Education Philosophies

    Coordinator Contact:

    • Maggie McKiernan

    • Early Childhood Consultant

    • Quality Time Educational Ideas and Services


    • 1-520-499-8039

    Las Familias: Whole Teacher, Whole Child Community of Practice

    A supportive environment where members meet to share ideas, growth, challenges, and opportunities with other like-minded individuals.

     Las Familias develops childcare center teachers’ knowledge and skills about a) how the whole child develops, b) development of language and literacy and c) how to implement Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP).

    Incentives based on attendance are:

    • NAEYC membership
    • SAZEYC conference scholarship
    • Children’s Books

    Coordinator Contact:

    Leading with Resilience Community of Practice

    Enhancing leadership skills of administrative leaders in the early childhood community of Vail Unified School District.

    The Leading with Resilience Community of Practice works with the directors of the early childhood programs in the Vail Unified School District to build capacity for supporting the practitioners in their programs. This is accomplished by building resilience within themselves.

    Note: The Leading with Resilience Community of Practice is offered to Vail Unified School District employees only.

    Coordinator Contact:



    Empowering Conscious Educators/Empoderando a Educadores Consientes Community of Practice

    Empowering Conscious Educators, a Spanish Language Community of Practice/ Empoderando Educadores Conscientes, una comunidad de práctica en lengua española

    Aumentar el conocimiento de los proveedores de cuidado infantil familiar sobre la importancia del desarrollo socioemocional como base para el aprendizaje.

     Note: The Empowering Conscious Educators Community of Practice is offered to home-based childcare providers. / Nota: La Comunidad de Práctica de Empoderando Educadores Conscientes se ofrece a proveedores de cuidado infantil en el hogar.

    Coordinator Contact:

    • Denisse Hernandez de Ortiz

    • Early Childhood Education Specialist

    • United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona


    • 1-520-903-3975

      Hear from a participant

      Cuquis & Jorge

      Cuquis and her husband Jorge are the owners and childcare home providers of “Mi Angel de mi Guardia” in Tucson, Arizona. They participate in the Great Expectations Program anchored at United Way of Tucson, which provides free professional development to early childhood educators. “Through the Great Expectations courses we have received a variety of trainings and presentations from national speakers. These sessions have allowed us to provide our children with lessons and supports we didn’t previously have.” – Cuquis Cuquis and Jorge have taken full advantage of the resources provided to them from the Great Expectations program, they are continuing to grow as professionals, sharing stories of success and encouraging others to grow.

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