The New Year brought a new opportunity for the youngest students at C.R. Weeks Elementary. The first school day of 2018 was also the debut of full-day pre-kindergarten, with 36 students splitting the day between Mrs. Jen Bennett and Mrs. Pat Eberz.
“There are some awesome benefits for the kids,” said Bennett. “They have an extended day of learning and exploring. Plus, we can give them an uninterrupted period of free-choice play. I’m so happy to be able to offer that.”
The students were happy with some other changes as well.
“I liked eating lunch in the cafeteria,” said Kealy Smith.
“Me, too,” said Aubrey Radzinka.
“They were thrilled they were able to eat in the cafeteria,” said C.R. Weeks principal Kristin Beriman.
While the pre-k students may have enjoyed the novelty of eating in the cafeteria, the meal did highlight another benefit of the extended schedule –allowing time for breakfast, lunch and a snack.
“Guaranteed nourishment for our kids with two meals and a snack is huge,” said Bennett.
Weeks now joins the District’s other two elementary schools, Palmer and Bell, in offering full-day pre-k. Both Bell and Weeks have two classes of pre-k. Palmer has one.
“A lot of people used to make their (school) choice based on full-day or half-day pre-k,” said Beriman. “Now, hopefully we’ll have more kids attend their home school starting next year.”
A grant from the New York State Education Department made the expansion possible. The change means families of students who were attending the half-day programs will now not be burdened with the cost of day care for the other half of the day. For the students themselves, the benefits will be felt this year and beyond.
“I hope they’ll be well adjusted going into kindergarten, and hopefully we can impact their academics and social skills a little more,” said Mrs. Eberz.
The students already seem on board.
“What I have seen is a very enthusiastic response to being in school the whole day,” said Bennett.