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Four-day kindergarten new at Fillmore Central

Fri, Apr 4th, 2003
Posted in Features

Through the innovation of two elementary school teachers, kindergartners attending school at Fillmore Central today are treated somewhat differently than students in the past.

When my son attended kindergarten nine years ago, he attended a full day of school every other day. One week he would go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; the next week Tuesday and Thursday.

Now all kindergartners at Fillmore Central go Monday, Wednesday and Friday to regular class. But in addition to the traditional three day model, each student also attends classes a full day on either Tuesday or Thursday as well.

The new kindergarten program takes advantage of slightly smaller class sizes to work with students four full days per week, with Tuesday and Thursday classes focusing on small group learning.

The brainchild of veteran teachers Cheryl Schumacher and Joanie Johnson, the program allows them to teach a regular Kindergarten curriculum three days a week, with the benefit of focusing on individual learning the fourth day. And in some special instances, where a student would benefit from additional instruction, the kindergartner attends school five days a week, with two days being spent in small groups.

“Every child benefits from small group,” Schumacher points out, noting that the student to teacher ratio on Tuesdays and Thursdays is 5:1. Schumacher’s program is called K+ (K-Plus) and is funded through Title 1.

“Not every child learns the same way,” explains Johnson. “One child might have an auditory style of learning while another might favor a more hands-on approach. They both benefit from individualized instruction in small group.”

“K+ allows us to work on concepts in regular group Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and use a variety of mediums to teach in small groups on the fourth day,’ Schumacher chimed in.

“And the extra day allows us to go back and spend extra time on key concepts,” Johnson said. While Schumacher works on small groups through K+, Johnson focuses on enrichment activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The enthusiasm the two teachers have for the program is evident in how they finish each other’s sentences. Both Schumacher, of Preston, and Johnson, of Harmony, have more than 20 years teaching experience. Johnson has been teaching kindergarten at Fillmore Central the past eight years, Schumacher five. They both bring a team approach to teaching kindergarten.

“Cheryl has some of my students in her small group and she might notice things that I am missing with a student,” Johnson points out. “It allows for better assessment of student progress.”

While both teachers point out that in kindergarten the goal is to make learning fun, they also hope to have every student skill-ready for when first grade starts next fall. And they believe that four-day kindergarten gives the student an advantage, both socially and academically, they might not have had in the past.

Johnson is quick to credit the Fillmore Central School Board for seeing the potential benefits of the new kindergarten program.

“They were very receptive and encouraging to what we were trying to do,” Johnson said.

Superintendent Myrna Luehmann told the Journal that four-day kindergarten is just one of the many positive changes taking place at Fillmore Central Elementary School.

“Next fall it is very possible that Fillmore Central will begin operating a day care program for three, four and five year olds,” Luehmann said. “And Semcac’s Head Start program will be moving to the elementary school building in the fall as well.”

Fillmore Central will host their kindergarten roundup on Thursday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m. For more information call 765-3809.

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