Pre-Kindergarten Program Expanded to Full Day in Two Wicomico Co - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Pre-Kindergarten Program Expanded to Full Day in Two Wicomico County Schools

 SALISBURY, Md. - Two Wicomico County elementary schools will have full day pre-kindergarten classes for the new school year thanks to a $4.3 million Maryland pre-k expansion initiative.

Tracy Sahler with Wicomico County Public Schools says the programs will be extended at Charles H. Chipman Elementary and West Salisbury Elementary for the start of the 2014-15 school year. She says this will allow 4-year-old students to attend school all day instead of participating only in a morning or afternoon session.

The Maryland State Department of Education included $280,000 for Wicomico County Public Schools in the recently announced Maryland pre-kindergarten expansion initiative. The grant will fund an additional teacher at each of the two schools, materials of instruction for the expanded instructional program, and professional development to help prepare teachers to make effective use of the full day schedule, according to Sahler.

The new expansion program has many faculty members excited.

"I'm extremely excited and I know our families will be too, because this grant will allow us to have a full day program for our pre-kindergarten students," said Antionette Perry, principal of Chipman Elementary. "We can build a firmer foundation for academic success in a full day than we could in two to three hours. The full day schedule will provide the students, teachers and assistants with greater opportunities for learning, while better suiting the schedules of families."

Chipman Elementary will have three pre-kindergarten teachers for three classes of up to 20 students each. The school day will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

West Salisbury Elementary will have two teachers for two classes of up to 20 students each. The school day will begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at 3:15 p.m.

Sahler says the mid-August school welcome letter will have specific information about the teachers and plans for the 2014-2015 school year, and it will be sent to the families of each pre-kindergarten student. The first week of school will be August 25-29. In Wicomico County, all pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will start the school year on a staggered schedule, with just a few students reporting each day during the first week of classes. Sahler says the welcome letter will include when each student will start the program. All pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will be in class by Tuesday, September 2.

Wicomico County has already had great success with full-day pre-kindergarten at the Wicomico Early Learning Center (WELC), according to Sahler. That program serves both 3-year-old and 4-year-old children in the Pemberton and Beaver Run school attendance areas with a full-day pre-kindergarten program.

The scores for elementary students who participated in full day pre-kindergarten at WELC lead the county, said Dr. Margo Handy, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Student Services.

"Having taught full day pre-kindergarten for seven years, I have had the opportunity to see the impact that full day pre-kindergarten has in the life of a child and the child's family," said Lauren Monroe, a pre-kindergarten teacher at WELC and the 2014-2015 Wicomico Teacher of the Year. "Full day pre-kindergarten provides extended instructional time. This in turn provides a larger foundation upon which the rest of a child's educational career will be built.  Children have more time to actively engage in reading, math, and science with methods that are developmentally appropriate. It also provides teachers with increased opportunities to partner with the family in life of their child."

All elementary schools with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes in the Wicomico County Public School system are continuing to register children for kindergarten for the 2014-2015 school year and accept applications to pre-kindergarten. Sahler says schools are open 7:00 a.m. To 3:00 p.m. Weekdays throughout the summer to assist families.

In Maryland, kindergarten is mandatory for children who are age 5 by September 1 of a given year (unless parents have submitted a Kindergarten-Level of Maturity Waiver Form seeking later admission). Pre-kindergarten is not mandatory, and is offered to qualified children who will be 4 years of age by September 1, 2014.
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