As a native of Long Beach, Maria Martinez-Harris understands the needs of the community. Now, she is returning to her roots as principal of Educare Los Angeles at Long Beach, a model early education program now being built on the Barton Elementary School campus.
Supported by public and private dollars, including Measure K funds, the program will provide care and education to children from six weeks to five years old from the immediate neighborhood near the Carmelitos housing project. Toddler and preschool classes will begin this fall in portable classrooms, while the new buildings are being completed. A grand opening is expected early next year.
The goal of Educare is to close the achievement gap between middle/high income and low-income families through early intervention for children and their parents.
Formerly principal of Webster Elementary School, Martinez-Harris has been an administrator and teacher in various LBUSD schools for more than 20 years. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and social behavior from UC Irvine, before receiving her master’s degree in education from Cal State Dominguez Hills. She also has an administrative credential from Cal State Long Beach.
"My work with staff, families, and children has focused on creating growth opportunities for children of diverse backgrounds and low social economic status," she said.
Educare will emphasize parent involvement with focused goals, highly qualified teachers and a student-to-staff ratio that is half of what is typical in other preschool programs.
"Our goal is to strengthen positive parent-child relationships and increase families’ well-being by supporting parents in furthering their own education and careers through onsite workshops and training," she said.
For information about how Educare is creating new models for early childhood education and advocating for increases in public and private funding, visit the Educare website.