A’al Ha-Mascam

Improving Kindergarten Transitions for Tribal Children

This CoP is available to Head Start teachers and staff and TOCC students living or working in the Tohono O’odham Nation.


The Tohono O’odham Community of Practice goals are:

1. Facilitate Tohono O’odham children’s transition into kindergarten

2. Support Tohono O’odham children with diverse abilities and assist kindergarten transitions for children with an IEP

3. Enhance professional development and practices among early childhood professionals on the Tohono O’odham Nation

4. Encourage and facilitate progress toward college for early childhood professionals on the Tohono O’odham Nation

The four goals are intertwined. As childhood professionals advance professionally and academically, they are better able to provide the developmentally appropriate environment and practices that will prepare young children for kindergarten and later life.

Tohono O’odham Community College offers a companion ECE course that often meets in conjunction with Community of Practice events. Fifteen scholarships per academic year are offered through Community of Practice for this course. The course title and focus change from one semester to the next. In addition, Community of Practice collaborates with higher education institutions, and potentially other programs to help students progress toward their degrees. To be enrolled in the companion ECE course, members must register through the Tohono O’odham Community College.

Members of the cohort also are encouraged and in some cases funded to attend other relevant trainings and conferences throughout the year.

These will include presentations by experts in early childhood practices, including academics, health, social and emotional development, and Tohono O’odham language and culture. Each presentation includes exploration of hands-on activities to be used in the work environment.

In addition, the Community of Practice organizes observation visits to schools receiving Tohono O’odham children into kindergarten.

The school observation visits can be several hours depending on the location and the number of classrooms to be observed.

Community of Practice meetings are four hours, followed by a two-hour session for cohort members aimed at implementing content from the presentations. Class sessions are typically held once a month for five hours. The presentations are arranged and facilitated by CoP Coordinator, Elsa Peterson, and the TOCC Class sessions are led by a TOCC Adjunct Faculty. Group and individual coaching is available to all members. Members enrolled in the ECE course also agree to a minimum of 2 coaching sessions per semester.

Students enrolled in the companion TOCC ECE course are graded based on attendance and completion of homework assignments aligned with CoP content and TOCC policies.

The Tohono O’odham Community of Practice offers educational incentives for cohort members who attend all events. Mileage reimbursement is paid for members’ travel to CoP events.

How to enroll
Prospective members of the Community of Practice complete an interest form designed by United Way/First Things First. Enrollment is simple, but to maintain membership requires actively participating in Community of Practice activities throughout the year. Participants are expected to attend all 9 Professional Development sessions.

When and where classes/sessions are held
Community of Practice events are held every other month on Monday at 9:00 am.

Contact Information

Elsa Peterson, Coordinator 520-383-0109 epeterson@tocc.edu  or ece4tocc.org