The Marana Unified School District Play and Learn (PAL) Center invites parents and prospective parents to a Family Fun Day. The event is FREE and will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 10 am-2 pm at Estes Elementary School, 11280 W. Grier Rd., Marana AZ 85653.

This fun-filled event includes food, raffles, and activities for the whole family. Activities include Special Olympics Young Athletes Fitness & Fun Activities; Mr. Nature's Music Garden Experience - song, dance, interactive instrument petting zoo; Northwest Fire District personnel and firetrucks; resources and informational displays.

The Play and Learn (PAL) Center is an integrated licensed preschool, located at Estes Elementary School, providing the highest quality education during the school year to children with identified learning challenges and their non-disabled peers ages. Open to students city-wide, ages three until kindergarten.

 At 10:15am, as part of the PAL Family Fun Day, a special ceremony will be held to rename the preschool program to, The Dr. Marianne Valdez Play and Learn Preschool, in memoriam of Dr. Valdez’s tireless commitment, passion, and service to the students, families, staff of the Marana district 1984-2015.

Before her passing, Dr. Marianne Valdez was the cornerstone of the Marana Unified School District special education department. She was originally hired as a special education teacher in 1984 by Marjorie Estes. Dr. Valdez later moved to Thornydale Elementary to teach special education students in the early 1990s. She began the first cluster program and brought technology into the special education classrooms. Dr. Valdez wrote grants and developed partnerships, including a project where students designed and created a beautiful butterfly habitat on the Thornydale campus.

Dr. Valdez began her leadership roles as an Inclusion Facilitator in 2001 and then became the Director of Educational Services in 2004. As the Director, Dr. Valdez championed many special education initiatives, but the closest to her heart was co-teaching. As a result of her vision and heart, the Marana district became known for exceptional services and support for students with special needs.

The Play and Learn (PAL) Center is an integrated licensed preschool, located at Estes, providing the highest quality education during the school year to children with identified learning challenges and their non-disabled peers ages. The program is open to students city-wide ages three until kindergarten. Aligned with Arizona Early Learning Standards, children attend PAL four days a week with optional before and after day-care services.

The PAL Center also offers a Peer Model Program (tuition required) for children who are typically developing. The Peer Model Program provides an opportunity for children with identified learning challenges to learn with their non-disabled peers. Peer models provide an excellent role model for students demonstrating learning challenges. Peer models benefit from this program through an experientially rich, developmentally appropriate preschool with exposure to children with personal differences. Free developmental screening and evaluation is provided as required.

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