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Jun 09
Orange Coast College Lab School Recognized as Outstanding Program of Year

​The Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children has named Orange Coast College's Early Childhood Lab School its Outstanding Program of the Year for 2020. The Lab school will receive a certificate of recognition and conference registration for the 2021 OCAEYC Conference. 

OCC's Lab School provides quality care and education for preschool age children who are 2-5 years old and their families. The school works in collaboration with the Early Childhood Education (ECE) department at the College, offering students the opportunity to practice course content in a real-world application. EC Lab school Teachers utilize emergent curriculum which is inclusive of children's needs and interest, intentionality, creativity and innovation. Learning environments, materials and activities are developmentally age appropriate and are open ended which contributes to the children's development socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically. 

"This award reinforces the work the of Lab School staff and teachers by upholding the goal of OCAEYC that is inclusive of ensuring early childhood educators have access to quality training, participation in a network of early childhood educators and creating a community of continuous learning and inspiration," says Lab School Manager Rochelle Santacruz. 

In April, after OCC's physical campus was closed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, distance learning became a new reality for the Lab School community as a whole. Although remote learning at the Lab School was foreign, teachers did not hesitate, and quickly developed at-home learning plans. Zoom calls were held twice a week, keeping children and families connected, and curriculum plans were sent out to parents weekly. 

"This program meets the criteria for Outstanding ECE Program because of its model to provide a 'lab' for hands-on real-world experience for ECE students and mostly because of the Lab School teachers who educate not only our youngest learners but college students and parents," OCAEYC said on their website. 

OCC was one of the first California colleges to provide an early childhood lab school program specifically connected to an early childhood education instructional department. Teachers at OCC's Lab School serve as mentors to the College's ECE students, and the School has been challenged to meet the increase in demand of students completing observations and field work hours within the preschool setting. In the future, the Lab School hopes to expand enrollment in its preschool classrooms in order to meet that demand. 

The Orange County Association for the education of Young Children (OCAEYC) is a NAEYC Affiliate representing early childhood educators in Orange County, California. OCAEYC connects early childhood educators and notable thought leaders in the early learning field through online communities, publications, and events. The organization also works with partners to make sure members have access to quality training and information, a professional and social network of early educators, and local savings and services. For more information visit