ELYRIA – Elyria Schools’ full-day kindergarten program is once again growing.
What started out 11 years as just 11 classrooms at the district’s administrative building in what was christened Kindergarten Village will grow to 25 classrooms at six locations throughout the district next school year. Due to the success of the program, the district is adding full-day kindergarten at both Ely and McKinley elementary schools next year, said Mark Sutter, director of academic services.
For the 2009-2010 school year, parents can send their children to full-day kindergarten at Spring Valley, Franklin, Prospect, McKinley, Ely and, of course, Kindergarten Village. Half-day kindergarten hasn’t been an option in the district for a couple of years.
“This decision does not mean the Kindergarten Village concept is not working,” Sutter said. “In fact, just the opposite is happening. Parents in the district want their kids in the program because they understand the importance of early childhood education.”
There are several advantages to having full-day kindergarten in neighborhood schools, said Rita Tomsic, the district’s program coordinator and principal at Kindergarten Village.
“Students work best when they are embedded in their local setting,” Tomsic said. “This is allowing us to let children learn and thrive in their own communities around the very same children and the very same setting they will transition to in the first grade.”
Sutter said other advantages for the district include eliminating some travel cost as well as the long bus ride for its youngest students.
Despite being at six locations across the district, Sutter and Tomsic both say the program curriculum will stay the same — with students learning the same concepts regardless of where they attend school.
“It will be the same program taught by experienced teachers that follow the same strict standards and high expectations,” Sutter said.
The additional kindergarten classes are just one component of a package of changes to take place next school year for the Elyria Schools.
The district also will close two elementary schools, Erie and Roosevelt, reduce its teaching staff by 23 teachers and transform all of the junior high schools into middle schools for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. While a lot to handle in one year, Sutter said each component of the plan is important in the district achieving its main goal: operating a financially stable, efficient school district where student achievement comes first.
That’s why revamping kindergarten in high on the list of priorities.
Kindergarten is no longer just coloring, show and tell, snacks and naps. Now, teachers and administrators recognize that kindergarten is as important as any other grade and classes now are longer and more academically intense.
Inside a brightly decorated classroom adorned with the masterpieces of the students at Kindergarten Village, journal writing and sounding out words kept young students busy Tuesday when Tomsic stopped by for a visit.
“Reading and writing are so important and our children do it from the get-go,” she said.
Inside the classroom, students are busy doing all of that and more.
“I love doing quiet time,” said 5-year-old Amari Green holding up a canvas bag filled with books, activity worksheets and paper for doodling. “You can do anything that is in your bag.”
After that declaration, Amari got busy writing in her journal. But not before telling a fellow student to “turtle talk” her way through sounding out a word.
“You can sound it out yourself or look on the word wall because no one can help you,” Amari said to classmate Kourtney Regal.
Kourtney, also 5, was drawing a picture about spending Easter at an aunt’s house when she got stumped trying to spell the word “home.”
The gentle encouragement was all Kourtney needed. She slowly formed the letters “H-O-M-E” on her paper with a huge smile on her face.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kindergarten registration for children who will be 5- by Sept. 30 begins April 6. Parents can register from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at their neighborhood schools. There will be no registration during spring break –April 9 through April 17. Parents will need to bring the child’s birth certificate, two proofs of residency, immunization records and proof of custody, if applicable.