Early Childhood Development program receives Hoffmann Award


Ciaire Jittipun/The Campanile

Claire Jittipun

To acknowledge its unique curriculum, Paly’s Early Childhood Development program was presented with the Hoffmann Award for Curriculum and Instruction on May 10. The award gives more exposure to the under-recognized ECD program, director Hilary McDaniel said.

McDaniel said fostering an interactive environment is a priority in her curriculum.

“The Hoffmann award recognizes five (high school) programs in Santa Clara County,” McDaniel said. “The award recognizes two primary areas. Our primary areas were curriculum and instruction because it is so unique to have this hands-on learning portion built into the curriculum.”ho

To engage students further, McDaniel aims to connect textbook learning to real-life experiences in the preschool classroom.

“A key aspect of the ECD curriculum is thinking about how I can help (students) tie what they’re reading in the textbook to what they’re seeing in a (preschool class),” McDaniel said. “We’re really trying to bring to life what they’re reading.”

Junior Samantha Mann, an ECD 1 student, said a significant part of the program is working with young children.

“We go to the preschools two times a week,” Mann said. “It’s different because we get to interact with children who don’t know as much about the world as we do. We get to teach them, and they teach us about how they learn and how they think. That’s really different from the other CTE classes.”

Greendell Principal Nikole Manou said the ECD program benefits everyone involved.

“I see it as a reciprocal relationship,” Manou said. “The younger students are getting something out of it, and the high schoolers are getting something out of it.”

The ECD pathway branches into three classes: ECD 1, ECD 2 and Child Development. The classes follow the psychological development of children and focus on effectively teaching and interacting based on age.

McDaniel said she hopes winning the Hoffmann award increases exposure for ECD.

“I am hoping the ECD pathway will continue to attract as many students as possible because it’s a unique opportunity for anyone who doesn’t want to spend time sitting at a desk,” McDaniel said. “You’re still learning, but you’re actively learning and you’re in the field working with children. It’s different. It’s unique.”