When Ruth first enrolled her family in A Stepping Stone Foundation’s LEAF Program (Literacy Elevates Arizona Families) in 2012, she couldn’t speak English and demonstrated poor literacy and parenting skills.  She signed a contract to do 32 hours of her own education while her son David attended our high quality preschool.  Both graduated the program nine months later and the next year, she re-enrolled with her next child, Alitzel. Families who participate more than one year demonstrate lasting changes in the behaviors and skills they need to transform their lives.


In the fall of 2018, Ruth enrolled her last child, Axel.  Like his sibling, he learned daily through preschool while his mom attended English lessons, parenting classes and helped in the classroom. Because Ruth was a returning parent, she was an invaluable role model for those who were beginning the LEAF program for the first time.


Once a month, preschool teachers visited Axel and Ruth at home as they did for all the enrolled families, and at the end of the school year, all families celebrated their accomplishments at the annual party.

Ruth was speaking English and had improved her parenting tremendously. She even had earned her US citizenship! Over the years, she communicated better with her children’s teachers and her children were prepared to excel in kindergarten because they also spoke English, got along with their fellow students and respected teachers.  Most importantly, they knew how to control their own feelings and had a passion for learning. Another family was transformed through quality two-generation education!


VanessaThe only way children and their families are admitted to A Stepping Stone Foundation programs is if they demonstrate a clear need of literacy services. When Vanessa began preschool at a Stepping Stone Classroom in 1990, she was the only Asian preschooler in her class. She spoke no English and was at high risk of never completing high school.

She and her mom went to school 4 days a week during the regular school year to practice reading and English. While she was in a high quality preschool setting with other 4 year olds, her mom was taking Parenting, English and reading classes. Once a month her classroom teacher visited Vanessa’s home to show her mom how to be her first best teacher. As the year progressed, Vanessa began understanding and then speaking English. She began kindergarten ready to succeed because she not only spoke English, but knew her sounds and letters as well. And her mom was ready to support her school efforts as well, having completed her English and parenting studies.

19 years later, Vanessa graduated high school and earned a full ride scholarship to ASU. Because she was a former Stepping Stone preschooler, she qualified for the Billie Gannaway Memorial Scholarship with our Foundation and we paid her books and expenses as well. She graduated with honors and is attending University of Arizona Medical School. She volunteers for our fundraising events and is a great addition to the Arizona community. Her family still lives in the Valley of the Sun.


Stepping Stone Foundation’s family literacy style preschool touches two generations at once. While our preschoolers are in session, the parents are attending their own classes to help them with their own literacy and to be their child’s best first teacher. This success story is best told in one mom’s own words:

“…I was a parent in the Stepping Stone Foundation classroom at Isaac Preschool … my daughter was a student (there). As part of the program, I made a commitment to participate in the family literacy program, and thanks to that our family has a second chance in life.

Our family had no goals; we had no future and were living day by day without a plan. I was an older parent starting all over again with a new family and I did not know how to care for them or how to manage a marriage. In Parent Time I learned that I could do anything I put my mind to. I also learned to set reasonable goals for my family and myself. I started GED classes with a third grade level in 1999 and in May of 2003 I received an Associate in Applied Science in Child Care Administration, and a CDA (Child Development Associate) and I am still working towards by Bachelors. My self-esteem has become a part of who I am. I take reasonable challenges and always strive to do the best for my children’s education. I try to volunteer in my children’s classrooms as much as possible and make regular visits with their teachers just to let them know that I am interested in what’s going on. I never participated in school with my other children and they did not get much out of their education. But now we have books all over our house and my children actually sit down and read them. I actually voted in our last presidential election.

My husband and I donate blood, and we visit the library often. We try to give back by making donations of clothing to Interfaith Shelter … I am giving back to my community by working at Isaac Preschool. I was employed this year in February as an Instructional Assistant, and now I will help others to succeed by applying my experience and education in teaching children and parents skills needed in life. I would like to thank you all for being supportive to Isaac Preschool Family literacy Program because it does make a difference.”

Josie, August 2003

Josie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and currently teaches kindergarten in Phoenix. She is on track to finish her Masters Degree in Education by 2010.

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