Preschool offers kids opportunity to improve learning

Photo+by+Maddy+Jones

Photo by Maddy Jones

Anna Wright

Photo by Maddy Jones
Photo by Maddy Jones

Beneath the bustling halls of RBHS exists an entirely different realm of education, one which favors finger paint over black ink and peanut butter crackers over Bosco Sticks.
Tiny bodies fidget in their miniature plastic chairs and high-pitched giggles bounce off of the brightly decorated walls.
RBHS is home to one branch of a Title I Preschool, an early education program that operates through Columbia Public Schools and has 26 classrooms in various schools throughout the district.
According to the preschool’s website, this federally funded program offers “developmentally appropriate early education through which young children actively build their individual potential in a positive, nurturing, culturally diverse environment.” Title I Preschool teacher Christine Beck said the program is free of charge for all children who are eligible to participate.
“They qualify for Title I by going through a screening and showing that they have developmental needs,” Beck said. “Often these fall in the areas of concept, language or motor skills.”
The children are broken up into different classes which attend school at separate times. Although the program serves over 675 children across Columbia, individual classes are kept small in order to ensure a more personalized form of education, which caters to the individual needs of all the children.
“We have two groups of children that come. The morning class comes Monday through Thursday and the afternoon class comes Monday through Friday,” Beck said. “I have 15 in the morning and 15 in the afternoon, so 30 families.”
Not only are Title I students provided with the benefits of high quality, specialized education, but they also enjoy the privilege of learning from the older high school kids who go about their day in such close proximity to the preschool. Beck said the unique location allows the children much more interaction with RBHS students and their classes, therefore allowing them to get a feel of the school.
“We have a creative writing class that comes in and shares books that they write, and I have A+ kids in here all the time,” Beck said. “They’re used to having grown-ups in here to play with during work time or [to] read books with.”
Junior Garrett Zyk said that the preschool adds a sense of liveliness and fun to the school atmosphere. He sees the day care as a special part of the RBHS experience.
“The kids look so peaceful and cute playing around on the playground outside,” Zyk said. “I think it’s a great thing for this school to have. It makes Rock Bridge more friendly.”
Zev Simmons, age five, says getting to see the bigger kids is one thing he enjoys about going to school. It doesn’t, however, quite match up to his favorite school activity, “playing with Legos.”
Beck and the other teachers offer a variety of fun activity options to the children throughout their daily schedule. Simmons’ classmate Kenadie May described a regular school day as being both busy and exciting and filled with different opportunities.
“We usually [go] outside first,” May said. “Then feeding time, large group time, small group time, story time and go home.”
When faced with the dauntingly specific task of describing her experience at Title I Preschool in one word, May responded enthusiastically, without missing a single beat. Her round, rosy cheeks turned upwards in a beaming smile, as she replied confidently.
“Fun.”
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By Anna Wright