Making early childhood education available to all children: Amarillo ISD is taking big steps to change their pre-kindergarten system.
Last week, we told you about legislative funding efforts that could force Texas' entire pre-k system to reorganize. And now, AISD is doing some re-organizing of their own. This is Lisa Greenhouse's second year teaching pre-kindergarten.
"I always think. Wow. Look at how much they have absorbed and learned. They're like little sponges." Mrs. Greenhouse's class could soon be filled with even more of those little sponges... For the first time ever, starting in January, AISD will offer community based pre-k to all children, not just those who meet the state requirements.
Cristy Wilkinson, AISD's Early Childhood Program Coordinator says the state requirements are, "meeting the free and reduced guidelines for lunch, children who speak limited english, in foster care or they could be a child of a military family."
Now anyone, regardless of economic status, can apply for the free pre-k class, taught by a degreed teacher, something many private programs don't offer. Greenhouse says, "Some other places hire people with associates degrees or no degree at all, and while they're it great, makes a difference."
By allowing all children access to pre-k, Greenhouse says AISD is setting even more children up for success." All children need a jump start to get ready for kindergarten or they sometimes start behind." The two new all-access programs are possible because they will not be using state money.
Wilkinson says, "a federal program, the Safe Schools and Healthy Students Grant that Amarillo ISD received." The new learning centers will be at Pavillard and McClellan.