Torria Baker has been selected as the new director of UCM's Bryant Early Learning Center.
Baker began her new role Feb. 6. She joined the Bryant Early Learning Center in May 2012 as assistant director and has been serving as acting director since October. Established in 1986, the Bryant Early Learning Center has provided safe, affordable, developmentally appropriate, full-day early childhood education that meets the learning, social, and emotional development needs of children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.
“I am honored and excited to work with our staff and parents to lead the Bryant Early Learning Center,” Baker said in a statement. “The children and families at the Center are what make the strong bond between home and school. Together we ensure a solid and promising future for all the children and families we serve."
“Torria has worked with our team at the Center to make some very positive changes,” said Elizabeth McNally, deputy director at UCM and former director at the Bryant Early Learning Center, in a statement.“She has worked as an early childhood development professional for more than 13 years. I am confident that her dedication, passion for children, knowledge, and skill will serve our families and staff well. I can speak for everyone at UCM when I say how thrilled we are that Torria will be continuing to lead this program that is so critical to the community and important in delivering UCM’s mission.”
Baker is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Previously, she taught a mixed-age class of 3- to 5-year olds at the NAEYC-accredited Inova Mount Vernon Hospital Child Care Center in Alexandria VA. She graduated summa cum laude from Northern Virginia Community College with her Associate of Applied Science degree, majoring in Early Childhood Development. She plans to continue pursuing higher education in the field. Baker was recognized in 2010 for her excellence as a preschool educator by the NAEYC. She was featured on the cover of the April/May 2010 issue of NAEYC’s Teaching Young Children (TYC) magazine.
“The Bryant Early Learning Center is a wonderfully rich multicultural environment that celebrates the potential of all children to succeed in life by getting an early foundation on learning and development,” UCM Executive Director Shirley Marshall said in a statement. “In addition to excellent care and learning, our Center provides a supportive environment for struggling families. State funds do provide us with a substantial base of support, but we must raise significantly more funding to ensure the hallmarks of excellence. These include consistent, positive routine; early identification and treatment of developmental delays; and high standards of learning.”
“UCM is an essential resource for working families,” she continued. “The Bryant Early Learning Center is just one of our paths to success. In addition, we offer food and financial assistance; health and parental education; English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and job skills training; special support for survivors of domestic violence; and outreach to connect low-income residents to opportunities for growth.”