April 2019

When Elizabeth was three years old, her mother, Amy, enrolled her in Santa Maria’s Promoting Our Preschoolers or POP program. The program is designed to help young children become developmentally and educationally prepared for success in kindergarten and as they continue their education. This success at a young age puts them on the right track for further academic achievement. Promoting Our Preschoolers manager and family advocate, Jaime Mutter, says that Amy “came to us when Elizabeth was three and a half and she wanted to make sure Elizabeth was ready for kindergarten. She felt like she didn’t have all the tools.”

Shortly after they enrolled in the program, Jaime started working with Elizabeth and Amy through home-visits where she would bring books, games, and educational activities. “We provided her (Amy) with little things to help her be Elizabeth’s teacher,” explains Jaime. Elizabeth, now 15, can remember Jaime’s home visits and what she learned from them. “I learned my alphabet, numbers, and primary colors,” Elizabeth says as she reflects on the program and how it readied her for kindergarten. “When I was younger and my mom was struggling, they also helped with that,” says Elizabeth. Her mother participated in the Parents on Point program which provides support and empowerment for caregivers for children ages 2-5.

These Santa Maria programs have supported not only Elizabeth, but her whole family. Although she graduated from the Promoting Our Preschoolers program at age five, Jaime has continued to be involved in Elizabeth’s life. Jaime says, “It’s been really special watching her grow and just become the wonderful person that she’s becoming. Elizabeth herself has stayed in touch with me and that really means a lot.” Jaime never has to wonder if the program had any impact on Elizabeth as she has been able to watch her continue to strive for academic success.

Looking to the future, Elizabeth plans to be the first member of her family to graduate from college. Although she’s not completely sure what she wants to study she says she’s looking into restaurant or hotel management. “I’m looking to be my own boss,” says Elizabeth. Regardless of what she ends up studying in college, Jaime promises to be there throughout the process. “The fact that she wants to be the first in her family to go to college just makes me so proud,” says Jaime. “I am going to be there with her every step of the way, because I know she can do it.”