Teacher visits to the homes pay dividends
The Be-Four Kindergarten program has received one of the highest honors possible - the Gold Seal for Quality Child Care. And rightly so.
The program has been offering 4-year-old students coming from at-risk and low income families the equal opportunity to an early-childhood education since 1997.
Janelle Poulson has been the head teacher for the program since 1998. Classes are held in the East Elementary building. The program began its accreditation process through the National Association for the Education of Young Children in the beginning and is licensed by the State of Iowa.
The accreditation is a year-long process which involves having specialists come in and observe the classroom, evaluating the total program and curriculum, and examining the records. To remain in that category, the process must be repeated every three years. (That time line was changed to every five years after the last inspection.)
The Gold Seal recognition is new and further demonstrates the top quality achievement that the school provides. Besides the thorough curriculum, the teachers keep health records, provides rest time and even includes a teeth brushing session.
Poulson explained that she and assistant teacher Cindy Gillman take time to conduct home visits with the parents of the students to help them understand the importance of education and reading and to stress the significance of being involved in the school functions. The parents have always been receptive and enjoy the visits and the information the teachers have to share with them.
Poulson added that many of the students that take part in the program come in knowing no English or very little. As a bilingual, she works with the young students to develop the English language. They pick it up quick, she added. This gives them a head start in their communication process as they prepare for kindergarten.
"I think this program is great for our community," said Poulson. "It gives them great experience."
The preschool operates the same days as regular school and goes from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. The students eat the school breakfast and lunch in their classrooms.
"I also think this program is wonderful," said the assistant teacher, Gillman, who has been at the school for the past five years.
Applications are currently available for the next school year. They may be picked up in the school office or in the classroom.