Two Wicomico County elementary schools will have full day prekindergarten classes for the new school year thanks to a $4.3 million Maryland prekindergarten expansion initiative announced in late July.
Families will be notified soon that 4-year-old students in prekindergarten classes at Charles H. Chipman Elementary and West Salisbury Elementary will now be attending 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 prekindergarten expansion initiative. The grant will fund materials of instruction for the expanded instructional program, and professional development to help prepare teachers to make effective use of the full day schedule.
“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 prekindergarten 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 prekindergarten teachers for three classes of up to 20 students each. The school day will begin at 9 a.m. (doors open 8:30 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. (doors open 8:15 a.m.) and end at 3:15 p.m.
Families of prekindergarten students will receive specific information about their child’s teacher and plans for the 2014-2015 school year in the mid-August welcome letter from the child’s school. The welcome letter will include information on when a child will attend during the first week (Aug. 25-29). In Wicomico County, all prekindergarten 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. This gives the students time to adjust to the school routine, and provides the teachers the time to get to know each student, work with students on school rules and expectations, and have conferences with parents. All prekindergarten and kindergarten students will be in class Tuesday, Sept. 2.
Wicomico has already had great success with full day prekindergarten at the Wicomico Early Learning Center (WELC), which serves both 3-year-old and 4-year-old children in the Pemberton and Beaver Run school attendance areas with a full-day prekindergarten program. The scores for elementary students who participated in full day prekindergarten at WELC lead the county, said Dr. Margo Handy, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Student Services.
“Having taught full day prekindergarten for seven years, I have had the opportunity to see the impact that full day prekindergarten has in the life of a child and the child’s family,” said Lauren Monroe, a prekindergarten teacher at WELC and the 2014-2015 Wicomico Teacher of the Year. “Full day prekindergarten 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.”
Getting Ready for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten
All Wicomico elementary schools with prekindergarten and kindergarten classes are continuing to register children for kindergarten for 2014-2015 and to accept applications for prekindergarten. Schools are open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays throughout the summer to assist families.
In Maryland, kindergarten is mandatory for children who are age 5 by Sept. 1 of a given year (unless parents have submitted a Kindergarten-Level of Maturity Waiver Form seeking later admission).
Prekindergarten is not mandatory, and is offered to qualified children who will be 4 by Sept. 1, 2014. (For families in the Judy Center catchment areas of Beaver Run and Pemberton elementary schools ONLY, prekindergarten services are also available to qualified children who will be 3 by Sept. 1, 2014.) Prekindergarten is a half day program throughout Wicomico County except for 3- and 4-year-olds in the Judy Center catchment areas of Beaver Run and Pemberton elementary schools, who participate in full day prekindergarten at WELC, and now for prekindergarten students at West Salisbury and Chipman elementary schools.
Priority admission is given to Wicomico County children and Delmar, Del. children who meet any of these criteria:
come from low-income (185% above poverty level; for families in the Charles H. Chipman and West Salisbury attendance areas ONLY, 300% above poverty level) or at-risk situations
have prior participation in Head Start
experience challenges like emergency or health problems, limited English proficiency, homelessness, or other home or family circumstances
recommended for the program by government or court referral
Parents or guardians whose child does not meet these criteria can put the child’s name on a prekindergarten waiting list, which will be used to fill any remaining slots. Documentation must be submitted prior to a child’s acceptance into the program. Families will be notified in late summer if space is available.
The Wicomico County Public School System, in conjunction with Prince Street Elementary School, will continue to offer a prekindergarten class at the Bundles of Joy Learning Center at 1409 S. Division St. in Salisbury this year. Many families need before and after school care for students attending a traditional half-day prekindergarten program. This prekindergarten class is unique in Wicomico County in that before and after school services, as well as year round child care, are available at this one location. Class size maximum at this site is 16 students.
On the typical day, these Wicomico students may be dropped off at the center as early as 7:30 a.m. After breakfast, they will receive the half-day prekindergarten experience with an early childhood certified teacher. Students are offered all support services such as vision, hearing, dental screenings, and field trips provided by the traditional prekindergarten classes. At the conclusion of the prekindergarten class, students are cared for by the accredited staff of the Bundles of Joy Early Learning Center until parents arrive to take them home. For additional information or enrollment opportunities in this class, please contact Bundles of Joy Learning Center at 410-341-0333 and/or Prince Street School at 410- 677-5813. Children enrolled in the prekindergarten class at Bundles of Joy receive a 20% discount on child care rates.