Pre-K now full days at Chipman, West Salisbury

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 an additional teacher at each of the two schools, 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 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.”

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