BERLIN — School Administrative Unit 3 hired an early childhood transition coordinator in February to support and coordinate the transitioning of children from local preschools to public school kindergarten.
The successful candidate, Kathryn Keene, hails from Conway, and has worked with North Country child care centers since 2010. She will work with principal Amy Huter, current kindergarten teachers, area preschool centers and individual families to ensure a smooth transition from pre-K to kindergarten for the fall.
“This is an exciting opportunity for children, families and teachers at the Brown Elementary School,” said Huter. “We are expecting close to 90 new kindergarten students this fall and hope to have established a relationship with the children and families long before the summer ends. When teachers are introduced to incoming students’ strengths and abilities early, they can plan a continuum that ensures classrooms are ready for the uniqueness of the arriving students.”
With the help of area preschools, Keene is creating an “Early Learning Passport” for each incoming kindergarten student whose parent signs a consent form. Area preschool directors have asked for parent permission to share helpful information about the children in their care with the school district. Included in the Passport will be screenings and assessments, writing and math samples, self-portraits, and a letter from parents to their child’s teacher. When students are assigned to a kindergarten teacher later this spring, the teacher will be given approximately 22 portfolios with lots of information about her prospective students.
“Our goal is to ensure continuity between pre-K or home experiences and the kindergarten classroom,” said Keene. “Kindergarten teachers expect and value the diverse backgrounds of their students and plan to accommodate individual strengths and challenges. We can facilitate that process with an early introduction of students to their teachers, and also families to kindergarten expectations.”
The Brown Elementary School recently held a Kindergarten Screening Day. Seventy-six children and their families attended. This was an initial screening for children’s academic strengths, and an opportunity to meet the principal, current teachers, paraprofessionals and the school nurse, Polly Duquette, known as "Nurse D."
“It is always so exciting to meet the new students and their families,” says Duquette. “It is so important that we know if any child has, for example, a peanut allergy, or any other issues. It makes September so much easier if we get essential paperwork completed before the first day of school so that we can focus on building relationships with the new children in our care.”