High quality preschool programs are essential in preparing young children for a solid start in school and life. They provide opportunities for children to gain a sense of self, learn about their world, interact with peers, and build confidence.

In addition to significant school readiness benefits, preschool strengthens socialization skills such as problem-solving and exposes children to a vibrant world of learning and community in their critical formative years.  Todd Grindal, Harvard Graduate School of Education, found that “the experiences kids have in the early years have profound effects on their futures."

Gary is a lifelong advocate for quality early care and learning programs that nurture children, guide them in learning and exploration, and provide opportunities for them to interact with peers as they learn and grow.

Dr. Gary Waddell has provided leadership in expanding quality preschool opportunities by:

  • Overseeing San Mateo County Office of Education's Early Learning Support Services Department that focuses on The Big Lift, State Preschool. Early Childhood Language Development Institute, family engagement, and a variety of quality initiatives
  • Expanding the staffing and scope of early care and education programs offered by the San Mateo County Office of Education under his tenure
  • Increasing collaboration and articulation between preK through 3rd grade  
  • Leading countywide initiatives to establish and support Transitional Kindergarten programs
  • Expanding quality preschool offerings at site levels as a Principal
  • ​Ensuring that preschool teachers and directors are included in professional learning opportunities offered by the County Office of Education

As County Superintendent, Gary is committed to expanding quality, affordable preschool by:

  • Renewing and expanding the commitment to The Big Lift and its four pillars - quality preschool, family engagement, inspiring summers, and attendance
  • Building partnerships to advance the goal of affordable, quality preschool for every child in San Mateo County (removing income as a barrier to access)
  • Supporting the training and development of preschool teachers throughout the county
  • ​Expanding programs that support second language learners and honor children's cultures in preschool programs
  • Building community partnerships through positive collaboration to address County-wide needs for quality preschools 
  • Expanding partnerships and resources to deliver high quality early learning experiences to students throughout San Mateo County
  • Expand services to infants and toddlers