Enid Public Schools officials were eagerly awaiting the onslaught of 4-year-olds who will come through the doors Tuesday morning.
Chris Smith, early childhood director for EPS, spoke at Monday’s Rotary Club meeting about the district’s prekindergarten program and renovation of Carver Early Childhood Center, which will house five prekindergarten classrooms and one Head Start classroom this year. During the 2015-16 school year, Carver Center will house six prekindergarten classrooms, Smith said.
She showed Rotarians photos of how Carver Center now appears, with trees cheerfully decorated by the Prairie Yarnstormers to brighten the learning experience of the 4-year-olds who will attend there.
“The school is being renovated again to be a delightful place for a lot of young children,” Smith said.
Smith thanked community members who have helped with the initiative by donating to the effort.
Smith said 19 staff members have been hired, all-new classroom equipment brought in, a developmentally-appropriate library with 1,700 new books for 4-year-olds waits, and the teachers are ready for the kiddos.
District-wide, there are 24 school-based prekindergarten classrooms and two intergenerational programs housed in assisted living centers in Enid, Smith said.
“Every 4-year-old in Enid Public Schools, we can say they have books at home,” Smith said.
That’s because the children are presented with books when they enroll for classes.
Smith said she’s been talking with parents, enrolling children, answering questions about the all-day program, and overseeing the many details of making ready for the ringing of the bell.
“One thing about moms and dads of 4-year-olds, they are gung-ho,” Smith said.
The teachers are apparently equally gung-ho. The all-day program is “wall-to-wall curriculum,” Smith told Rotarians.
“We don’t waste a second of their time,” Smith said. “We honor the fact that their parents have sent them to us to do our best with them.”
Smith noted that the 4-year-old learners come in at different developmental levels, and what they learn is geared to their individual needs. But one thing EPS makes certain to work on is their mastery of technology. The students are “tiny techies,” Smith said.
“We do know that the world these children enter will be a world of total technology,” Smith said.
One Rotarians asked about the difference between Head Start and EPS prekindergarten programs. Smith responded Head Start is a federally funded program with no direct connection to EPS although the school district has agreed to make a classroom available for Head Start.
The district has written its own standards for its prekindergarten program, Smith said.
As school starts, there is a waiting list of young learners waiting to get into prekindergarten classes, Smith said. She’ll work on placing them in classrooms after school begins.
The number of tiny students in each classroom is limited to 22 as per Oklahoma law, Smith said.