Northwestern Press

Friday, October 18, 2019

Teachers, principals present review of full-day kindergarten

Thursday, October 3, 2019 by Elsa Kerschner ekerschner@tnonline.com in Local News

Kindergarten teachers Krista Keys, Laura Luca, Marion Miller, Katie Praetzel, Amanda Reifinger and Wendy White; Principals Maria Pulli and Jill Berlet; and Director of Curriculum LeAnn Stitzel presented a review of the first year of full-day kindergarten to school directors at their Sept. 18 board meeting.

Superintendent Jennifer Holman told the board the change to full day was successful, and then turned the discussion over to Stitzel, who said research was done during the 2016-17 school years and was approved by the board in June 2017.

Principals, teachers and Stitzel visited other schools that already had full-day kindergarten.

The curriculum included developmentally appropriate material, a play-based environment and consideration of social and emotional facets of education.

Pulli said they had to learn the entire process.

White said the focus for the youngsters was on writing their names, having different experiences and making letters out of Play-Doh.

“We meet with the kids where they are at in development,” she said.

Berlet said skills are developed through play.

“Young children learn best when they actively explore,” she said. “It’s good to have social and emotional skills but physical skills have to be included.

“We use purposeful play. They learn teamwork, problem solving, self reliance, self expression, goal setting, following rules and we have them figure things out.”

Pulli told the board mindfulness practices helps children develop compassion and conflict resolution which produces happier, healthier kids who are ready to learn.

Stitzel said they use a program, “Kid Writing,” with follow-up training. Report cards were restructured.

“Some things carry over to first grade,” she said.

A parent survey received a 50-percent return. It included advances they see in academics and had questions about parent support and satisfaction. There were open-ended questions where parents could write an opinion.

One suggestion was having the students do a science experiment and explain it to the class

Stitzel told school directors it will take five years to completely implement the change and the kindergartners’ work will be followed over the next several years.

Board member Bill Dellicker thanked the teachers for their purposeful journey.

“Seeing your excitement it was the right decision,” he said.

Board member Todd Leiser said mindfulness will follow them through other grades. Stitzel said all staff will be trained for mindfulness.

In her report, Holman said she and Business Manager Leslie Frisbie had visited Circle of Seasons Charter School where financial reports were reviewed and some customs discussed.

She also noted the stadium is getting daily use with its turf cover.

Scott Shearer of PFM Financial Advisors said all documents are in place for the issuance of bonds in the amount of $10 million to refund the bond series of 2013 and note of 2018. The net district savings will be $256,867.

Approval was given to reimburse $25 per course to students taking dual enrollment courses.

Water was tested for copper and lead and all water sources were acceptable.

A new pickup truck with plow was authorized for purchase at a cost not to exceed $4,000.

A Young Artists Art for Learning agreement was signed for an Artist is Residence program at Weisenberg Elementary to be paid with Education Foundation funds in the amount of $5,011.

Programs paid with student activity funds are for The Nutcracker, at Weisenberg on Dec. 12, $890; and Magic of Science at Northwestern, Oct. 25, $1,095.