National Education Association for the Education of Young Children Press Release

Oakridge Neighborhood

Contact: Kristin Littlejohn

515.244.7702 Ext. 136



Oakridge Neighborhood Services Earns Accreditation for Oak Academy from the National Association for the Education of Young Children


DES MOINES, IA, Mar. 14, 2018- Oakridge Neighborhood Services in Des Moines has received accreditation from The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), a professional membership organization that works to accredit early childhood programs. NAEYC provides a more reliable and accountable accreditation system along with encouraging the field of early childhood education to strive for a new level of excellence since 1985.

NAEYC evaluation of Oakridge Neighborhood Services includes a thorough review of the physical facility and quality of patient care. NAEYC interviews both staff, parents, and students while conducting a review of organizational documents, including records of children care.

“We are extremely pleased to have achieved this designation,” states Teree Caldwell-Johnson, CEO of Oakridge Neighborhood Services. “Accreditation is a rigorous process, but one that we welcome as a continuous quality improvement mechanism. Earning NAEYC accreditation is another measure of our excellence as a premier provider of child care and early enrichment education and reflects our commitment to our children and their families.”

Founded in 1926, NAEYC is a large nonprofit association representing early childhood education teachers, para-educators, center directors, trainers, college educators, families of young children, policymakers, and advocates and primarily focuses on improving the well-being of young children, with particular emphasis on the quality of educational and developmental services for children from birth through age 8.

Oak Academy provides high-quality child care and early enrichment education to an ethnically and culturally diverse group of infants and toddlers and prepares preschoolers to enter kindergarten ready to learn and on a level playing field with other children in their respective classes. The Academy utilizes the research-based Creative Curriculum, which is based on principles of child development, individualized for each child and incorporating culturally relevant practices.  Academy staff addresses the needs of the whole child by supporting their social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development in a safe child-friendly environment where they encounter daily experiences that mirror their ethnic and cultural backgrounds and those of their classmates.

“Receiving accreditation is a significant achievement, one that recognizes outstanding performance by Oak Academy,” says Bethany Davis, Oak Academy Director. “The employees should be commended for their commitment to providing quality care to the children. They are a huge part of the process since they are the ones being observed during the site visit.  They are also responsible for their classroom portfolios as well as their knowledge of policies, procedures, curriculum, and assessment,” says Davis.



Oakridge Resident Becomes US Citizen

During a time of heightened anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, more than 14,000 immigrants across the country became America’s newest citizens. One of the 14,000 immigrants is 18 year old, Cicilia Awa, an Oakridge Neighborhood resident.

Awa came to the states in 2006 with her family, just a year after the Second Sudanese Civil War had ended, at the age of six. Little did she know that would be the last time she would see her grandmother and other extended family members for 12 years.

Like most refugees and immigrants, Awa and her family came to the United States hoping for a better life and more opportunities. While living in the US, Awa and her family are living a better life and do indeed have more opportunities; however, the opportunities were limited due to the fact she was not a US citizen. This is why it was important for Awa and her family to get their US citizenship.

On August 16th, 2018 Awa had her Citizenship ceremony surrounded by family and close friends.

“I’m so proud of her,” said Awa’s mother, Ms. Nyibol Dhol, “I’m so happy for her, she deserves it.”

Being a legal citizen brings Awa freedom. Freedom to vote, freedom to voice her opinions, and freedom to travel. Freedom to travel is something most take for granted. Awa hasn’t seen her grandmother and other extended family members in 12 years.

“The first thing I’m going to do is visit my grandmother,” said Awa cheerfully. “I finally have this freedom, so I’m going to use it! I realize it’s hard, but as long as you study and put all your mind into it, you can pass the citizenship test.”

Now at the age of 18, Awa is a high school graduate, currently enrolled at DMACC, has a job as a CNA at Broadlawns, and is now a U.S. Citizen. After some well deserved traveling, Awa plans to finish her two years at DMACC and continue her studies at the University of Iowa to receive her BSN in Nursing.

Oakridge is proud to have helped Ms. Awa through her journey here in the states and is proud of all the things she is set out to do!