Victor Superintendent Diane Woodard said the school started the program last year but was ready to expand.
“We’ve got top-notch teachers in there really getting kids started in the right direction,” Woodard said. “We now take 3- and 4-year-olds and it is a huge boost to our population. In each of our K-U classrooms, we have a full-time teacher and a full-time para. We have 14-15 students in both of those classrooms, which is really the sweet spot in my opinion, so they get that focused attention and support.”
Educator Kelly Conway started the K-U program last year.
“This year we split the program so the young 3- and 4-year-olds are in one class and the older 4- and 5-year-olds are in another,” Conway said. “I teach the older children.”
The program benefits the students by giving them a jump-start to their education, she said.
“I think it is an amazing program because those kids that are 3-5 have the opportunity to see the school, be in the school, get used to the school — get ready for kindergarten,” she said. “A lot of kids don’t get that opportunity.”
The K-U program runs each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with snacks, naps, and lunch while students learn the social aspects of being in school, colors, letters, numbers and shapes.
“It’s a pretty fast day, it goes by pretty quickly,” Conway said. “Last year they adopted the ‘Open Court Literacy Program.’ In this class it is learning the alphabet and what sounds the letters say. I saw amazing progress last year.”
She said even the 3-year-olds progressed quickly last year.
“It was neat to see where they started and where they ended the year,” Conway said. “This program is geared towards this age group, so every letter has a fun little rhyme and story. The kids love it.”
This year the class has added a program called “Handwriting Without Tears.”
“It’s a neat little program that teaches the shapes of the letters,” Conway said.
The program comes with hands-on packs of large wooden pieces to make the shapes of the letters and workbooks that students may use towards the end of the school year.
Conway taught Head Start for three years, ran her own preschool for six years and is in her second year at Victor.
“I love this age group because they want to learn and they are so excited about it,” she said. “In the morning we have ‘free choice time’ for them to freely move to the different centers and play with their peers.”
The K-U classroom has a toy kitchen for dramatic play, a block center with blocks and cars and farm toys, an art and writing center, a reading center, a puzzle center and a science center.
Jasmine Gile is the paraprofessional in Conway’s classroom, ready to assist as needed.
Educator Tia Emerson is the teacher for the younger 3- and 4-year-olds in a classroom across the hall.
Emmerson said that this first year she is learning from Conway.
“I’ve heard nothing but the best,” she said. “I have the littles and it will be kind of crazy. I didn’t go to school for early education, but I worked as a paraprofessional in a pre-school last year and I loved it. It will be a lot of fun.”
Superintendent Woodard said the K-U program prepares students for kindergarten and further education.
“It’s a good program,” Woodard said. “There is learning in play, and we want them playing at that younger age. Then we elevate them, so they are really ready for kindergarten. Those kids are learning and getting their foundational skills for reading. We’re not going to have middle school kids that can’t read.”