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BRIDGEPORT — Preschool and kindergarten programs build a strong foundation for a child’s entire education, and residents of the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District can register their children to participate this month.

The district announced that kindergarten registration for the 2023-24 school year will take place from 8 am to 2 pm Feb. 28 for children who will be 5 years old by Aug. 1. Educators also talk about the importance of kindergarten and preschool education for young learners.

Superintendent Brent Ripley said preschoolers are exposed to the district’s learning strategies including reading, developmental and behavioral skills, along with technology integration.

“To parents, we just want to stress that preschool is so very important to the future success of their children,” Ripley said.

Brooke Syrylo, preschool director and teacher, said there are 14 children in the 3-year-old range in the preschool and the capacity is 20.

The classroom for 4-year-olds also has a capacity of 20.

“We have two groups per day. We have a morning session and we have an afternoon session. Usually around 20 students is our goal for each classroom,” Syrylo said.

She said the word is spreading among parents about the benefits of early social and academic preparation.

“We’re getting calls about registration, people are interested in coming in, and we have an opportunity for students to attend two years of preschool, which is a great opportunity to get them ready. We focus on social skills. They’re learning to be in a group that’s not in their home with their family. They’re adjusting to listening to other adults and interacting with other children. Those focuses are there, as well as the academics of preparing them for kindergarten.”

She added the district offers a five-star Step-up-to-Quality rated program through the Ohio Department of Education.

“We recently had our licensing visit. Everything went very well,” she said.

Leslie Kosanovic, curriculum director, also spoke about the advantages of early education, including familiarizing children with technology to enhance education.

“Some of the things you’re seeing in here today are obviously rotating through groups, sharing things that you would see in a typical preschool, but also the true integration of technology is very important here in Bridgeport,” she said. “Using technology as a tool to showcase their learning. So, anytime that we can integrate technology, the main purpose is whether it’s a preschooler or a high-schooler to give them the tools to visualize their learning, to make their learning visible, to allow them to have student voice and student ownership of their learning. learning.”

Kosanovic said the school is working with Apple Professional Development to integrate tools into classroom learning.

“It’s bringing that integration to the students and giving them the kind of what they need in real time, and there’s so many, so many great things you can do with iPads,” she said. “We are actually talking with our Apple senior specialist from the Apple company and she is working with our teachers.”

She also commented on interrupted childhood development due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kosanovic said the district is adaptable.

“We just kind of meet the students where they are. We have a wonderful, wonderful preschool program,” she said. “We have an amazing team of people. Students are assessed when they come in. We see what they need. Everybody has strengths, everybody has opportunities for improvement.”

Syrylo said there are strategies to cope with interference in development caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re definitely seeing that there is an effect from that, but having these kids here every day, we have an opportunity five days a week, so they get into that routine and schedule, and we also work very closely with family. Families are involved in our classroom and with us in our activities, and we try to offer them support as well. If they’re experiencing challenges with their children at home or because of the lack of social skills and the lack of social situations, we provide support. It is definitely a partnership with our parents and to help them with their children.

“At this point in the year, the kids have made so much growth in working in the classroom, listening to the teacher, working with the other children in the classroom. We’re seeing some good things happening now,” she said.

Syrylo said the district also offers support, such as providing transportation for parents.

The elementary school can be reached at 740-635-0853, ext. 1800. The website is bridgeportschools.net. The school is located at 55707 Industrial Drive.



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Meet the kindergarten teacher with 80,000 students

For most parents, the smaller the class size the better when it comes to early education.

But that apparently doesn’t apply to Megan Jessens, who’s got 80,000 students and is making a difference for each one.

A former kindergarten and now part-time pre-k teacher, Jessens goes live on her Facebook group, Miss Megan’s Camp Kindergarten, each weekday morning at 10 am ET for an hour. On any given day, thousands of kids are watching her go over the calendar, letters, sight words and more.

She does it while teaching and managing her own two young children. She said that’s been the most challenging aspect, but it’s also helped her to “think outside the box” when it comes to parenting since she’s doing it in front of a live audience.

It was for her daughters — ages 6 and 4 — that she started kindergarten camp in the first place.

PHOTO: Meghan Jessen on April 21 at her "Camp Kindergarten" on Facebook.

Meghan Jessen on April 21 at her “Camp Kindergarten” on Facebook.

Meghan Jessen

“I’m an advocate of routine and structure,” she told “Good Morning America.” “I knew for my own girls we would do better with a morning routine. It helps me, too.”

Jessens thought he might be able to help out a few other kids too. So, she posted to her Facebook page to find out if anyone was interested. She had 15,000 people in her group before she ever went live.

By Monday, that number had grown to 87,000. It’s one of the largest Facebook groups to form since the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now more than ever, people are turning to tens of millions of Facebook Groups dedicated to every topic imaginable,” Facebook said in an email to “Good Morning America.” In fact, in the US, we’ve seen more than 4.5 million people join COVID-19 support groups on Facebook.”

In the six weeks since she began, Jessens said she’s yet to receive any negative feedback.

“It’s something for the kids to look forward to,” she said, and helps free up parents to help older kids with work while the younger children are engaged and learning. “It’s a win-win.”

Because most parents aren’t teachers, Jessens said, it’s helped give some insight into what goes on inside a kindergarten classroom. She plans to keep up her classes through the rest of the school year with summer to be determined.

Jessen said she never anticipated the way her online class has been taken off. But for her own family — and the ones watching — it’s been a constant they can count on, she said.

“We get up, we get dressed and we go to class. It’s the springboard for the rest of the day,” she said.

Connecticut’s kindergarten enrollment is declining — and educators are concerned

Fewer students are enrolling in Connecticut public pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms as the pandemic continues. But state education officials said this is a trend that started before the pandemic.

Since the 2014-15 school year, state data show that total enrollment decreased by 3.4% each year until the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment saw the sharpest declines for the 2020-21 school year, according to the state data. Compared to 2019, pre-kindergarten fell by about 3,500 students, from 18,829 to 15,300. That’s a 19% decline in a single year. Based on the same report, kindergarten enrollment fell by about 4,300 students — from 36,566 in 2019 to 32,256 in 2020, a nearly 12% decline.

The drop in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment is a concern because without early childhood development, the long-term consequences could result in learning delays, according to the state Department of Education. Kindergarten also provides an opportunity to identify developmental issues early on. The sooner a problem is identified, the sooner the child can get support.

“This will improve their ability to achieve throughout their school years,” the state Department of Education said.

Andrea Brinnel, an early childhood specialist with the state Department of Education, said that anecdotally families are choosing to hold back their children for many reasons, including COVID-related concerns, but officials don’t have the data to examine all of those factors.

The disruptive schooling experience over the past two years between remote learning, hybrid schooling and COVID restrictions has also left some children lacking in skills they may have learned before going into kindergarten, Brinnel said.

“They didn’t get the chance to practice some of those skills. And I think a lot of that falls into the area of ​​executive functioning, which really does need to be intentionally taught to kids, and they need opportunities to practice,” Brinnel said. “Without that practice, we’re seeing kids show up looking a little different in kindergarten than they did a couple years ago.”

The statewide decline in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment by about 8,000 students for the 2020-21 school year accounts for more than half of the drop in statewide enrollment for all grades, the state report said.

Brinnel said other factors, including parents opting to home-school their children, also contribute to the enrollment decline.

“While school districts are required to offer kindergarten, parents aren’t required to send them until they’re 7. So that’s part of it,” she said.

Some parents have also continued to express concerns about having their children return to in-person schooling amid rising COVID cases, while others worry about the potential for another mask mandate.

Irene Parisi, chief academic officer at the state Department of Education, said those are all real concerns.

“This is why the department has worked so hard with school districts, as well as other state agencies, to understand what are the best mitigating strategies, what resources might be needed and what’s the best guidance to support parents with those decisions,” she said .

“It’s important to understand the importance of having students learn in person,” Parisi said. “At the same time, we ask what we can do to make them feel safe and learn with confidence.”

Learn more
Explore COVID-19’s effects on kindergarten, early childhood and learning as part of the Connecticut Public documentary “Cutline: COVID to Kindergarten” – it airs May 19 at 8 pm on CPTV or you can watch online.

Mountain View Whisman slated to expand transitional kindergarten

Parents and students say their goodbyes as the first day back at school begins at Monta Loma Elementary School in Mountain View on August 10, 2022. Photo by Adam Pardee.

The Mountain View Whisman School District is planning an expansion of transitional kindergarten this fall, spreading the program across five campuses rather than centrally locating all classes on one site.

Transitional kindergarten is a free program that parents can opt to enroll their children in for the year before kindergarten. This school year, kids who turned five between Sept. 2 and Feb. 2 were eligible to attend. A state law passed in 2021 will ultimately require that districts offer transitional kindergarten to all four year olds by the 2025-26 school year. Next school year, any child who turns five between Sept. 2 and April 2 will be eligible to sign up.

Currently, Mountain View Whisman has five transitional kindergarten classes at Theuerkauf Elementary School, which serves children from throughout the school district. Next school year, the district plans to offer eight classes split among Theuerkauf (two classes), Monta Loma (two classes), Castro (one class), Mistral (one class) and Imai (two classes).

Transitional kindergarten isn’t a requirement, but any parent whose child will turn five by April 2, 2024 is eligible to sign up. Classes run from 8:15 am to 1:45 pm and are taught by credentialed teachers. Registration is ongoing and parents can register on the district’s website.

The district’s goal will generally be to enroll students at the school nearest to their home, but that isn’t guaranteed and will be dependent on space. The district will also prioritize placing students at the same school their siblings attend. Imai will also have a “co-taught” classroom with both a general education and special education teacher, who can support students with disabilities.

“Our goal is to try to keep the neighborhood together as much as we can, but it will boil down to space,” Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph said in an interview. “Right now I think we’re in a good position that we have enough space, but we’ll know once the numbers are (finalized).”

Once transitional kindergarten serves all four year olds, Rudolph predicts that the district will offer transitional kindergarten at all schools.

In the shorter term, the district hopes that by offering the program at five schools next year, that it will be accessible to more families, particularly those who walk their children to school.

The district selected the campuses in part based on where students could benefit most from an extra year of education. Monta Loma, Theuerkauf, Castro and Mistral have lower literacy rates for students entering kindergarten than the district’s other elementary schools, according to a presentation to the school board earlier this month.

The district also hopes that campuses with transitional kindergarten programs may see a boost to enrollment, as parents get used to the school and decide to keep their children there for elementary school.

Space was also a consideration. Transitional kindergarten classrooms need to have a dedicated bathroom, Rudolph says, limiting where they can be placed.

Although Imai doesn’t have low literacy rates, the campus has available classrooms, Rudolph said, and covers a different geographic portion of the district. Imai is at the southern end of the district, while Castro, Mistral, Theuerkauf and Monta Loma are all to the northwest.

With the expansion of transitional kindergarten, the school district also plans to make changes to its preschool program. Mountain View Whisman offers preschool on a sliding fee scale at three sites: Graham Middle School, Theuerkauf Elementary School and Latham Preschool – which is adjacent to Mistral and Castro elementary schools. Graham also houses the district’s Special Education Preschool.

Next year, the district plans to move Graham’s preschool classes, including the special education program, to Theuerkauf. Rudolph told the school board that parents often don’t want their preschoolers to be sharing a campus with middle school students.

With the expansion of transitional kindergarten, the district has seen lower enrollment rates for preschool, according to the presentation to the school board. The district’s preschool program serves children ages three and up, meaning that some kids are eligible for both transitional kindergarten and preschool. Rudolph said the district will need to study the issue and determine the future of the preschool program.

Another challenge for the district is that while transitional kindergarten is now becoming a state requirement, the district doesn’t get extra funding for the program due to the way Mountain View Whisman is funded. Unlike most school districts in the state, which receive funding based on the number of students, Mountain View Whisman (and many other Silicon Valley districts) are funded through local property taxes.

The state has allocated money for students funded on a per-student basis, but not for property tax-funded districts, Rudolph said. The district is applying for some grants, but isn’t likely to be chosen as a recipient, Chief Business Officer Rebecca Westover told the board.

To learn more about Mountain View Whisman’s transitional kindergarten program and to sign your child up, visit mvwsd.org/schools_and_programs/transitional_kindergarten.