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Aurora mobile preschool honored by city, aims to expand

By Tori Mason

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    AURORA, Colorado (KCNC) — As Colorado families and pre-K providers work to navigate changes to early education, an Aurora preschool is honored for its dedication to learning. You won’t find a building address for the award-winning school, as it’s located inside a bus.

You Be You Early Learning is Colorado’s first nonprofit, mobile preschool, and teacher-led cooperative, rooted in diversity and equity. They provide personalized, community-engaged learning for children in their own backyards.

“We offer this for free and it’s parked in the community. Many people in marginalized communities have transportation issues and aren’t able to take their kids to school, but here we are!” said Roya Brown, executive director of You Be You Early Learning. “Aurora Housing Authority was concerned about kids here because they didn’t have access to schools. They wanted us to start something right away and they gave us a chance.”

There are currently two You Be You buses in Aurora, including one near the subsidized residences at Willow Park. Brown says they’re working to expand, adding a third bus to the Montbello neighborhood.

More than a decade ago, Brown saw a need for higher-quality early education.

She has an engineering background and later went on to become a secondary school teacher.

“I was not happy with my son’s education,” Brown explained. “As a high school teacher, I found many of my kids who came to my math classes had gaps. I felt if they had a more solid background and foundation, they would be ready for high school. That’s a principle of ours, to get the kids ready.”

Each bus has two teachers, providing more personalized time with students.

Parents like Anthony Logan have seen a change in their children’s attitude toward learning.

“His communication is better. His love for numbers has skyrocketed,” Logan said about his son, Noah. “His cousin also went here. I know he’s going to miss it when he leaves.”

Many of the school’s programs are STEAM-focused and complement its holistic educational framework.

Students also experience field trips to places like the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Botanic Gardens. You Be You has delivered over a thousand hours of quality science and math education while eliminating barriers to access like cost.

You Be You is in the process of applying for a state license that’ll help secure more resources for funding, like Colorado’s Universal Preschool program. Brown says they’re able to teach without a license because the school is focused on a primary subject area, an exception made by the state.

Currently, they get most of their funding through grants and stipends through Aurora Housing Authority.

This month, the city of Aurora hosted its Aurora Business Recognition Awards Ceremony to honor businesses that have demonstrated innovation and creativity, community impact and ongoing resiliency. You Be You Early Learning was recognized with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award.

“Students really love it here,” said Brown. “When they go to Kindergarten, they often tell their parents they want to go back to the bus.”

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