(Photos by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
BENTON -- The high schoolers in the Kelly School District weren't the only students to benefit from the new high school building constructed a year ago.
When the new high school opened a year ago, it freed up space to house a preschool program. Now 4-year-olds living in the Scott County district can prepare for kindergarten through the district's first preschool program.
"They've discussed for several years about adding a preschool here, and with the new high school being completed, they finally had space to put it in," said Kelly preschool classroom teacher Terri Peters about how the preschool originated.
Housed in a former kindergarten classroom, the preschool offers morning and afternoon sessions. It has a maximum enrollment of 30 (15 students in each session), and several students are currently on a waiting list.
"Any student is able to come in as long as they live in the Kelly School District. We gave a screening test and used several indicators and selected students with the most needs," Peters said.
The program is supported through Title I federal and local district funding.
"It's an open curriculum where the children have lot of center time, and there are group activities they do every day," Peters said.
Some of the centers include artwork, a sensory table, dramatic play, blocks, math, puzzles, Play-Doh, computers, writing and science.
"Right now we're doing them every day. As the year progresses, we'll do five centers a day two days a week," Peters said.
Children who attend the preschool receive kindergarten readiness skills, such as learning letter sounds, counting, colors, shapes, writing their names and many social skills, Peters said.
Kelly's preschool is joining the company of preschool programs in other public school districts as Sikeston R-6, New Madrid County R-1, Scott County Central, Charleston R-1 and East Prairie R-2 school districts all have preschool programs in place. Most of these districts also have an early childhood special education preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Peters said she and other school officials looked at preschools in the Scott County Central, Jackson and Cape school districts to get ideas for Kelly's preschool.
"The initial room set up and all of that was challenging," Peters said.
School began Aug. 14, and so things are off to a good start, Peters said.
"The first few days have gone remarkably well," Peters said. "The kids have done very well and participate very well. We've had very few tears."