Elk County - Dickinson Center, Inc. (DCI) in conjunction with Saint Marys Area School District provided a Kindergarten Readiness Program for the fourth consecutive year. The three week program was open to all the incoming kindergarten students enrolled at the South Saint Marys Street, Fox Township, and Bennetts Valley Elementary Schools. A total of 61 students were enrolled between the three elementary schools, and sessions were held at each of the respective elementary schools. DCI appreciates the support of the school administration and the school district with hope to sustain this program for subsequent years.
Deborah Freeburg, LIFE Program Caseworker, facilitated the program along with Taylor Freeburg, SMAHS student, employed through North Central Community Action Corporation. Mr. Zack Hoy and Mrs. Sara Gresco, AmeriCorps teachers, also assisted with the program. The goal of the program is to ease the transition of students entering into kindergarten and provide a routine similar to the routine students will experience in their own classroom. The students learned that school is a safe environment and where learning takes place. The students were exposed to pre-reading, math, literacy, fine and gross motor skills, art, music, physical education, acclimation to their respective schools, school rules, routine, and learning how to make good choices.
Also, DCI Parents As Teachers offered specific kindergarten readiness lessons to the students. Mrs. Debra Love presented a lesson utilizing the Incredible Years curriculum. Incredible Years is an evidence-based program endorsed by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The curriculum has been extensively evaluated and has been shown to decrease risky behaviors late in life such as delinquency, violence, and substance abuse. Mrs. Love taught a lesson on anger management using puppets to provide strategies to use to de-escalate and resolve one’s anger.
Mrs. Nicky Cashmer, Parent as Teachers, Baby Signs Instructor, taught the students sign language to the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? The students were engaged in learning this skill and applying the use of sign language to communicate this story.
Miss Adrienne Mahoney, Parents as Teachers, Wellness Educator, taught a lesson on identifying healthy foods and encouraging students to eat healthy food and exercise to maintain good health. DCI’s Literacy Express brought Clifford, The Big Red Dog, and presented each child with a complementary book. Mrs. Tracy Ross, CAPSEA, Community Outreach/Training Coordinator, taught a lesson of feelings and the importance of expressing feelings appropriately. CAPSEA has been a long-time partner with the Kindergarten Readiness Program.
The students concluded the program with a Moving-On to Kindergarten Ceremony. These ceremonies are held in the student’s respective school’s auditorium/gymnasium to showcase what the students have learned over the course of the program. Following the ceremony, the children had a reception to in honor of their accomplishments, and family attended to wish them well as they are off to kindergarten.