Students in Inga Clum’s First Class Pre-K classroom at Inverness Elementary School are already learning some valuable lessons at school, such as the importance of following rules and treating each other with respect.
These are just two of the many things that the 16 four-year-olds attending the new pre-K program at Inverness Elementary School are learning just three weeks into the start of school.
“We are following the state’s preschool standards,” said Clum. “We are working on fine motor skills and social skills. It is really going fabulously. The kids have all been transitioning really well, especially from partial days to full days.”
The First Class Pre-K Program is Alabama’s state-funded pre-K program for four-year-olds. The program is funded by the Education Trust Fund through the Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs Office of School Readiness. Inverness Elementary was awarded funding to implement the program after completing a grant application.
Governor Robert Bentley announced on May 17 more than 150 grants were approved for dozens of programs across the state. The grants, which are being funded by a $16 million increase for pre-K education approved by the Alabama Legislature, will provide services for nearly 2,800 additional four-year-olds in the state. The grant covers the cost of materials, required furniture, and salaries for teachers and paraprofessionals.
Inverness Elementary is currently serving 16 students who were selected in a lottery drawing from pre-registered applicants. Clum, who previously taught 1st grade and served as the school’s Reading Recovery, moved into the pre-K position because of her love for early childhood education.
“I love it. It is absolutely wonderful,” Clum said. “I knew it would be different especially with their range of emotions, but I love it. I am early childhood focused with my degree and this is something that I have always wanted to do. Mrs. Hoffman was so supportive of me wanting to make this transition and I am very excited to have this opportunity.”
Clum is joined in the classroom by Barbara Davis, who is working as the paraprofessional for the class. Davis also comes to the position with previous pre-school experience having worked in church Mother’s Day Out programs in the community.
The students are getting to experience many of the elements of school that the older students experience, including recess, music, and art. The school’s library media specialist also comes down to their room for story time. Clum and Davis are discovering what each student loves to do in class each day.
For Brookly McClure, going to music class and the music which is incorporated into classroom instruction is her favorite part of being a pre-K student.
“I love to sing and dance,” McClure said.
Bennett Patterson is partial to art. Clum said he especially enjoyed doing a recent activity of dot painting their names.
Other students, such as Ann Carlton Oxford, love the various station activities.
“Our home living station is one of her favorite stations,” Clum said of Oxford. “She loves to cook at the stove. She also loves Playdough and puzzles.”
While on the playground, the teachers learned the students loved to pick up little items such as pebbles, twigs, and pine straw. Davis decided to bring a plastic box for them to put the items to be used later for a science discovery activity.
“We have some tiny snail shells, some pebbles, some straw and other things,” Davis said. “We are going to look at these items under a microscope to investigate them more closely.”