The California preschool has just begun its sixth year, and things are going well.
Time and resources have made it possible for the district to add a second classroom for children in preparation for kindergarten.
This addition welcomed Jamie Shewmake to the mix to take on the endeavor with Kimberly Scheidt. Scheidt explained the two teachers share the responsibility of making sure their students hone their "social skills, sharing, friendship and academic success."
Keeping true to his own responsibilities, California Elementary School Principal Gary Baker spent a part of the summer finding ways to make the program even better.
"I found that all research has shown that children have the ability to learn and grow academically earlier and quicker," Baker said. "We found that it was important to keep true to academic focus in order to prepare these students for kindergarten. By doing this we can have them start early with literacy and recognition."
Baker went on to explain benefits of having the preschool within the elementary school building. The first is to have all students be familiar with the building and its rules. The second benefit allows students to get accustomed to their contemporaries.
"Most other daycares and preschools have kids of all different ages in their enrollment," Baker said. "Other children have really only been around their parents for three years. But here, they're all the same age and can interact and learn with kids their own age."
While progress in all areas of the elementary school has been taking hold, there does seem to be one glaring issue the building is facing — space.
For the past 25 years, Baker said, student enrollment has not fluctuated. That is until three years ago when the school saw a 10 percent growth.
As of today, the student enrollment is at approximately 660, while 100 staff members are in the building as well. The school is looking to the upcoming 2020 bond issue to fix that potential problem.
"In theory, half of the district is in this building," Baker said of the elementary school. "It's really the next logical place to focus on a bond issue. We really have no more classroom space, so we want to look at the primary (preschool) building to help it expand."
Meanwhile, Scheidt continues to work closely with her administrators, Shewmake and Julie Bird, Director of Special Programs/Federal Program Coordinator, to keep her students on track. With weekly meetings to ensure teaching methods are fine tuned to how her students learn, Scheidt said the process has been promising.
"Everything is going very well," Scheidt said. "The kiddos soak up so much and they really want to learn. When they do pick up on something new, they're always so proud of themselves and want to do a good job. They want to be big kids and learn as much as they can. They do that through play, learning social interactions and we always keep close to rules and expectations when it comes to academics."
The future of the preschool program is glowing brightly. Ever working to keep their students learning and growing, Baker says it's all about adapting.
"Every year is different," Baker said. "But the engagement in the classroom is second to none. These are our students and we want to give them anything and everything we can, they need to grow. The state is helping us with our want and desire to have more. Right now, we're looking at different bonds to make this happen, because I just don't want to see this falling on our district and taxpayers."