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Ariel Davis is the Director of QUALITYstarsNY, New York’s quality rating and improvement system. Her work focuses on helping early childhood programs across the state of New York to identify areas of improvement and supporting them to meet their quality improvement goals. We asked Ariel to share some of her reflections about her work with us.

What is your current role? In your own words, how would you describe the work you do?

QUALITYstarsNY is New York's Quality Rating and Improvement System that supports programs serving young children to build and sustain quality. A program participating in QUALITYstarsNY is evaluated or "rated" based on how it measures up to QUALITYstarsNY Program Standards, a robust set of research-based indicators known to affect child outcomes. Working in collaboration with the program, QUALITYstarsNY then uses that evaluation data to build a plan to address specific areas for growth. Finally, and in an ongoing way, QUALITYstarsNY provides coaching and resources to help programs implement their plans—from purchasing books for the classroom to providing scholarships for staff to earn degrees or credit(s) in areas that will help improve their quality. 

As Director of QUALITYstarsNY, I oversee and coordinate many aspects of the day-to-day implementation work while also planning for the future expansion of the system. The work itself varies daily, but certain constants include: establishing and maintaining relationships with community partners, initiating and managing work with subcontractors, and using data to evaluate and continuously improve internal and external strategies.

Who do you work most closely with at the Institute? What outside partners/organizations do you work with?

Within the Institute, QUALITYstarsNY works closely with members of The Aspire Registry team. The qualifications and professional experiences of early education program staff directly inform the overall quality of the program and the services it provides to children and families. My team works with The Aspire Registry team to make sure that staff data is communicated to our rating engine and is leveraged throughout the quality improvement planning phase, so that the investments are maximized in key areas.

What motivated you to work in the early childhood field?

Early childhood is where you can make the biggest impact. I had the privilege of having wonderful early education experiences, with truly nurturing, qualified, and supportive teachers who were deeply invested in my success and in instilling my love for learning. Every child deserves to have that.

If you could learn a new skill today, what would it be?

Personally, I'd love to learn to play an instrument. I love to sing and so it would be nice to have built-in accompaniment. Of course, I'd also love to learn to change a flat tire, not kill my plants, etc. I have a long list! Professionally, I'd like to get really good at using Excel to create and manage complex budgets.