From the Perspective of a QSSB Participant: Back to Nature Prep

Jennifer Pierson is the proud owner of Back to Nature Prep (Pierson Family Child Care), a home-based preschool program in Barstow, California. Her program currently serves twenty preschoolers in morning and afternoon sessions, including four children that stay for a full day of Transitional Kinder (TK) program. Ms. Jenn has been an early educator for about thirteen years and has owned her own school for the last five years. Back to Nature’s assistant director and teacher Dennise Clayton, or Ms. Nisee to the children, has been a part of the school since 2014. We are excited to have both teachers play such an active role in the QSSB program and bring high-quality care to Barstow.

A History of the Participant Experience

Back to Nature enrolled in QSSB in its inaugural year, 2016, and over the last two years has moved from the Quality Improvement portion of the program into a full rating. Full rated child care sites are measured against a set of standards in three major categories: child development and relationships, health and safety, and teacher qualifications. The rating is a tool to guide a site’s individual quality improvement plan (QIP) through which program goals are set. These goals are supported through ongoing coaching, professional

development opportunities, and in some cases monetary incentives used to make site and curriculum updates.

Ms. Jenn and Ms. Nisee were kind enough to share their QSSB experience, from the start, to their goals and the environment updates they’ve recently been able to make. Check out our interview with these awesome educators!

Let’s get to know their journey!

Q. What are some goals you have as an early educator?

A. Ms. Jenn: I hope to continue my Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood and Leadership and I am also working on getting my director permit through California. One day our big dream is to be able to open a center that is based on “nature” and agriculture [farming] to help bring together the community and educate our young learners on how to help and respect our Earth and one another.

A. Ms. Nisee: I am working to finish my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. Once finished, I would like to continue my schooling and earn my Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood. As an educator I want to provide students with the best care in an environment where they feel loved and nurtured.

Q. Were you able to attend any professional development trainings this past year?

A. Yes, we have been able to attend a few different trainings, online trainings, and events including:

DRDP Training online
Trauma informed care for child care providers
Math, motion and connecting thoughts trainings (2016)
Ages & Stages Questionnaire
And they have all been very helpful.

(A variety of trainings are offered to all QSSB participants and made available on the professional development calendar. Back to Nature Prep also participated in the Victor Valley Family Play Day, an opportunity to network with peers and the community.)

Q. What updates were made to your site and how will they benefit your school and children?

A. We were able to do a lot during our summer break, May to August, and are still making updates.

We got a new wood play set, a rock wall, and picnic tables for outside play, snack and lunch. The “Mud kitchen” got updated cook wear and sand toys. Our garden has new plants and an updated watering system. Inside the classroom we got new flooring, new paint on the walls, and a few updates to help keep us warm in the winter and nice and cool in the summer. We added over eight new table top activities, more than five different sensory buckets, music instruments and once a week we now get music lessons from Rheba’s Music for Munchkins. Other items include classroom supplies and STEM based toys and projects.

Q. How did you choose these particular projects?

A. We had made a list of goals when we first started QSSB of what items we knew would help the developing minds of our young students and made sure to get those items. We talked to our students about things they would want and parents as well to get their feedback on our program. Then we looked at our FCCERS score (FCCERS is an assessment tool that looks at a site’s overall environment to ensure quality standards are being met) and looked at things that we needed to add to make the environment better for our students. Our QSSB coaches helped us a lot with ideas about the items that we needed.

Q. And lastly, what are you looking forward to as you continue on with QSSB?

A. We are looking forward to all the great things QSSB has to offer us, from more training, guidance, to being able to bring so much more to our small town. We also love to educate other teachers and programs about QSSB, there are so many programs that can benefit from QSSB. We love to inform other programs to help get them on this amazing program.

Upgrade 19Thank you Ms. Jenn and Ms. Nicee for your contributions. We wish you and your students all the best this school year!

What’s Next

QSSB is moving into its third year (time flies!) and participants, both established and onboarding, will have more opportunities to work with coaches, fine-tune

 their skills and attend trainings. As mentioned in the article, please check out our website calendar to see current and future offerings.

We want to know your story! To share your QSSB experience, please email We would love to hear from you!

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