VIP Village Ribbon Cutting ...

A ribbon cutting ceremony and self guided tour was held on Tuesday July 20 to celebrate the new VIP Preschool campus. From left Board President Mary Doyle, Superintendent Katie McNamara and VIP Preschool Director David Sheppard.

The new VIP Village Preschool campus has been ready for a year but due to the pandemic children had not been heard laughing and running in the playground, and learning in the classrooms. On July 20, all that changed when the campus was open for the first time with a ribbon cutting ceremony and self guided tour.

Many parents with children ready to attend the school flocked to the new campus. An air of excitement marked the event. Current and former trustees were present as well as representatives from the city with Mayor Serge Dedina, Councilmember Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez and City Manager Andy Hall in attendance. Representatives for San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Senator Ben Hueso as well as Assemblyman Chris Ward were also present at the event.

The new campus was made possible through Measure NN which passed in 2018 with 68 percent of the vote resulting in $18 million for the construction of the campus. The new VIP Preschool facility has 21 classrooms and the entire campus is 30,160 square feet.

Superintendent Dr. Katie McNamara, director David Sheppard and Board President Mary Doyle took turns speaking.

Sheppard thanked the attendees as well as representatives from First Five San Diego, San Diego County Office of Education and the California Department of Education consultant. “Since launching this location in 1992 we have had 20,000 children in our program…20,000 children got a great start on their educational career…VIP will continue to provide quality preschool education for all children long into the future,” he said.

McNamara announced that the memorial tiles formerly at the campus were incorporated into the new facility. Also, the community was surprised with a memorial bench for Raleigh Sanders, a big supporter of VIP Village Preschool, who was part of the South Bay Union School District Bond Oversight Committee. “Relationships are essential when constructing a new campus, it’s important to honor the past and those who have had an impact,” she said.

The bench features a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., which reads, “Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”

Sheppard is very pleased with the new campus design. “It’s beautiful, it meets al the needs of the children and our community…it’s designed for preschoolers with little touches,” he said. “VIP Preschool has an early intervention program that allows families to bring their children for evaluations working with a special education team, if they qualify we find an appropriate place for them.”

VIP is unique in that children with special needs can receive the help they need right on campus as opposed to other preschools where children are sent to an elementary school.

“The entire school is built for preschoolers I don’t think in the state there is another campus that is designed for preschoolers,” said Sheppard.

During construction the entire school staff and children were temporarily housed at the West Campus on Third Street off Palm Avenue. The previous school, made up of portable classrooms, was demolished but part of the playground was left because it was new.

Everything is brand new at the school down to the wooden puzzles, and learning toys like a play kitchen. The campus has touches of color inside and outside with blue, lime and orange.

During the self guided tour, attendees followed tiny footsteps to see the classrooms and the large cafeteria.

Former VIP teacher, now retired, Silvia Bello was there for a visit. “I saw different kinds of toys, more modern, to stimulate the brain,” she said.

Bello also loved the colors, the cafeteria and the new overall environment. “I like the open spaces,” she said.

Juana Villavicencio was in line with her daughter waiting to speak to a school employee about registration to ensure all was set for the school start date of July 26. Her daughter will be part of the special education program at VIP. “It’s great for the community of IB. We have a lot of little ones and it is much needed. It’s amazing, the kiddos will benefit from this. It has a welcoming feeling and is state of the art,” she said of the campus.

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