State funded pre-K underway

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

First C

Thirty-six students are taking advantage of free pre-K classes thanks to state grants to two Pike County schools.


New Life Christian Academy (NLCA) received $82,800 in grant money, which allowed the private school to hire on a new teacher for the pre-k class, get new materials for the classroom and make pre-k available to students who might not have been able to come otherwise.


“This grant opened the doors economically to people who might not have the funding to pay tuition,” said Annie Blackmon, director at NLCA.


“Every child should have the opportunity to go to a preschool program.”


The NLCA class includes 18 students. Blackmon said that she’s been very impressed with Pamela Daniels, who was hired to teach the class.


“She’s a super educator,” Blackmon said.


“I’ve been impressed with her techniques. She has a great rapport with the parents and the kids love her.”


Daniels spent five years as a teacher at the Headstart program of OCAP before joining the staff at NLCA, which she said helped prepare her for the job.


“It’s pretty much the same,” Daniels said. “The children are excited. They’ve enjoyed interacting with each other and the teachers.”


The class just started a new curriculum that includes small group activities, story time, Bible verse memorization, music, playtime at “center stations”, playtime outside and, of course, naptime and snack time.


The class goes through a different theme each week. Last week the theme was sharing, and this week’s theme was apples.


The theme is incorporated in many ways during the class, even at the center stations where the children learn while they play.


The children demonstrated just how smart they were when Daniels started story time, asking the students about parts of the book. The children could name the spine, the cover and even the title page.


“These kids are smart,” Blackmon said. “Given the opportunity, they can learn so much.”


Daniels’s assistant Shantrice Tarver has been at the school for three years, but this is her first time with the pre-k class.


“They’re a dynamic team,” Blackmon said of Daniels and Tarver. “Shantrice just has such a bubbly personality. I told her she’d make a great teacher so we brought her on and now she’s almost done with school to be an educator.”


Pike County Elementary School also received a grant from the state for $120,000.


“We’ve had pre-k programs at Goshen and Banks, but we were excited to get funding for a pre-k program at the elementary school,” said Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent of Pike County Schools.


“Things seem to be gong well. We’re trying to increase programs offered at all of our schools.”


The addition of the pre-k program and its 18 students at the elementary school means that the Pike County school system now has a pre-k program at every elementary school in the district.