Our Featured Leaders are Early Childhood Community stakeholders who work to make Oakland smarter and stronger. They are parents/caregivers, providers, educators, and collaborators.
Angie Garling, Early Childhood Education Administrator
Angie with her kids.
Angie Garling has been around the field of early education for a long time. She spent more than 18 years as Alameda County’s Early Childhood Education program administrator, developing and implementing systems and programs to address the needs of children and families in the county. She was a founding member of Oakland Starting Smart and Strong’s Lead Planning Team. Angie recently left her position in the County to become National Early Childhood Education Director for the Low Income Investment Fund, where she’ll be helping to develop resources to support child care facilities across the country. We talked with Angie about what she’ll remember most from her time as one of the leaders of Oakland Starting Smart and Strong.
Why did you get involved in Oakland Starting Smart and Strong (OSSS)? I was really concerned about the divide between public institutions that had preschool and community-based preschools. And about kids being ready for school as well as schools being ready for kids. Everything from infrastructure, facilities, technology, space planning, teacher pay, professional development, all of it needed attention. We had a strong partnership with OUSD from the start of OSSS, and we all wanted to improve the quality of Oakland’s publicly funded preschools.
What are the top 3 things that have made preschool in Oakland better?
Better managing of the budget so they’re not constantly being scrutinized. They did this by improving enrollment and improving scheduling of teachers. It’s really not sexy, but it was huge.
The OSSS resilience work, which has supported teachers in implementing trauma-informed classroom practices.
The improved quality of classroom coaching through our relationship with the New Teacher Center.
And I’ll add a 4th that is really important. Providing support and funding for every single one of the OUSD child development centers, Head Start centers and community-based subsidized preschools . Getting them prepared for a quality rating, getting the rating, and then continuing to improve where needed. Getting the entire community on board with quality ratings. It’s huge that all the OUSD preschools and Head Starts are at least 4’s, and many are 5’s.
What do you hope for Oakland in the future? Part of what I love about Oakland Starting Smart and Strong is our shared understanding of the importance of early childhood and what a great “preventive measure” early childhood education can be for other problems in life. I hope the Oakland community continues to recognize the importance of professional early childhood teachers. You need a teacher who is able to focus, who isn’t worried about paying her bills, who has the resources to be present loving and nurturing with kids. Part of that is making sure they can live and thrive in a high cost area like Oakland. What will you miss most about OSSS? I loved working with a diverse group of people committed to helping Oakland’s families and providers thrive. That was one of the things that was really fun -- the people. It reaffirmed my belief that Oakland is an amazing place and is only going to get better.