Preparing Children for Success
I’m a preschool teacher for the Goshen Community Schools Title I Preschool Program, currently located at Chandler Elementary School. I moved to Goshen around six years ago; my husband’s family is from here. I remember that my first winter in Goshen was a real adjustment – it was the first time in my life I ever experienced a snowstorm and had to put on a pair of snow boots.
I’m from Texas and I’ve been teaching for more than 17 years. Where I’m from things are a little bit different for pre-K education, there’s a lot of support behind it. But right now in Indianapolis it feels like there’s a big push for more preschools and I think the state of Indiana is coming around and starting to see how important preschool is for the educational and emotional development of our children. We need more preschools in this country and we need more children going to them. Kindergarten is not what it used to be and part of that is because we see kids coming into kindergarten who aren’t as prepared as they used to be.
People tell me they never knew that Goshen Community Schools has a preschool. We do, and it’s a really great place for kids – and I just am glad to be a teacher there. The Title I Preschool Program has been in Goshen for 12 years. We started out located at Prairie View and have now moved to Chandler Elementary School – we’ll be staying at Chandler Elementary through next year.
We have two different preschool classes, each with a para, and each class has a morning session and an afternoon session. We only allow 16 students per class so, in total, we teach 64 students a day Monday through Thursday. There is no preschool on Friday. Cindy Shreiner is the other teacher with me here at the preschool, and our two paras are Angie Schmucker and Sandra Rodriques. The four of us work so hard everyday to help these kids build up their academics and their social and emotional skills as well. Cindy and I both really appreciate having Angie and Sandra here – our paras help us out so much with everything. We could not do all of this without them. And the four of us just genuinely enjoy working together and with these amazing children.
There are so many benefits of preschool, but one thing that we really stress these days is the social element. Most preschool kids experienced Covid to some degree and because of that a lot of these children didn’t have those sort of normal years of socializing with other kids or even a lot of other people in general. A lot of these kids spent a lot of time alone – and separated from other kids – throughout the pandemic. The social part of it is really critical these days; kids need more time getting emotional support and learning the building blocks like sharing and caring and peacefully solving disputes with classmates, friends, and other children.
We have a lot of different ways we work with the kids to make sure there is learning involved. The key is to make it fun; we’ll do role-playing activities based on different themes – and we do ‘fun centers’ that let the kids learn while they have fun. One example of a ‘fun center’ would be an activity with a pretend restaurant, for instance; someone has to be the cashier and someone has to be buying something. In the process of these fun activities there’s learning and social interaction taking place. Our Tools of the Mind curriculum also really sets our kids up for future success, and we also have each child create a portfolio that includes a self-portrait and their number writing. As the year progresses they can check back with their portfolio and get a sense of how far they’ve come.
Aside from the fact that this is a free, high-quality program available for the community, the other thing that’s great about our preschool is that we offer transportation here and back. We have a bus that is only for our preschool kids; there’s an aid on the bus and it brings our preschool students directly from the parents to us. It is a door-to-door system. Obviously, this is important to parents from a safety perspective, and I think it’s also appreciated because people are just so busy these days between life, work and parenting. This takes a lot of the stress out of preschool for the parents.
Teaching at the Title I Goshen Preschool is important to me because I know how good of a program it is, and I just wanted our community – which is full of young families and parents with children – to know that we are here for them and that we work hard to prepare the youth of our community for future learning and success.
Written by Jake Sandock
Original publish date May 2023
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