21CSLA Research-Practice Webinar Highlights: Leadership Lessons from Early UTK Implementers in California


The webinar is hosted by Rebecca Cheung, Executive Director of Leadership Programs at the Graduate School of Education, UC Berkeley and Director of the 21st Century California School Leadership Academy (21CSLA) State Center and moderated by Tara Ryan, Deputy Director, Center for District Innovation and Leadership in Early Education (DIAL EE). All panelists are early education leaders and DIAL EE Fellows, who are early learning leaders in CA school districts, focused on building distributed leadership within districts to affect early childhood learning and K-12 systems alignment.

Panelists include: Christie Herrera, Executive Director of Early Learning at Oakland Unified School District; Noemi Valdes, Director, Early Childhood Education Programs in the Oxnard School District; and Sandra Lee, Program Coordinator, Weaver Union School District. The panelists have experience which spans urban, suburban, and rural districts.


By 2025–26, California is poised to realize universal prekindergarten (UPK) through a combination of approaches and services. UPK consists of universal transitional kindergarten (UTK) as well as other programs and services that families can choose from to meet their needs and simultaneously ensure rich early learning opportunities for all 3- and 4-year-old children during the year or two prior to kindergarten. 21CSLA will support this initiative by building the capacity of equity centered instructional leadership of teacher, site, and district leaders, with a focus on the prekindergarten through third grade continuum.

From the outset, webinar hosts recognized that the conversation about UTK, UPK, and early childhood education can be overwhelming. There is a wide variance in experience, resources, and support. The majority of districts don’t have an early learning program, other than Transitional Kindergarten (TK), which has been implemented differently across districts.

Rebecca Cheung
Tara Ryan
Christie Herrera
Noemi Valdes
Sandra Lee
Publication date: 
August 25, 2022
Publication type: