The College of Public Health and Human Sciences’ Child Development Center (CDC) is partnering with the Corvallis School District to bring a prekindergarten classroom, which includes children in the Head Start Program, to Adams Elementary School this fall.
The move will make Adams Elementary School the only school in the district to house a pre-K – and Head Start Program – classroom.
The hope is that the move will make the transition from pre-K to kindergarten less intimidating for students.
“There are children who have anxiety about leaving the pre-K class to move to the bigger school,” says CDC Director Kathleen McDonnell. “If children are used to being in the elementary school, then the fear will be gone.”
The CDC’s prekindergarten program uniquely serves both Head Start and tuition paying families, whereas most Head Start programs are stand-alone programs. Integrating children in traditional pre-K classes and those in the Head Start Program allows for a mix of families from different socioeconomic levels.
“I think it will be wonderful for our children to have that exposure to the elementary school to allow for a smoother transition to kinder.”
The CDC offers space for 120 children, 76 of those spots are reserved for Head Start students through the state-funded program for 3 to 5 year olds.
Criteria used to determine eligibility for Head Start includes income, homelessness, children in foster care, and families who receive either TANF benefits or SSI (disability).
Two CDC prekindergarten classes will remain at Bates Hall on the Oregon State campus while one class will move to Adams Elementary with a morning and afternoon class, each serving 20 children.
“We are moving toward a true integration where we will be a part of the school and our teachers a part of the staff,” Kathleen says. “The principal at Adams is so enthusiastic and welcoming it is infectious. He wants us there, as does his staff, and we will be given access to all that the school has to offer including the gym, library and art.”
“Imagine if a kinder teacher could observe a child who is going to be in their class the following year and perhaps sit and meet them. The benefits would be huge for both the child and the teacher.”
Former CDC Director Joanne Sorte spearheaded the move to Adams Elementary School last year, and Kathleen is seeing it to fruition.
“I decided to pursue it this year because there is an increasing focus on pre-K and pre-K through 12 alignment,” Kathleen says. “I think it will be wonderful for our children to have that exposure to the elementary school to allow for a smoother transition to kinder.”
Kathleen hopes to gather data on children’s kindergarten readiness to see if integration makes a difference.
“We don’t want to turn our class into a mini kinder class,” she says. “Children still need to be able to play, which is how children learn in the early years. But imagine if a kinder teacher could observe a child who is going to be in their class the following year and perhaps sit and meet them. The benefits would be huge for both the child and the teacher.”
The CDC is still accepting Head Start applications for Fall enrollment; however, spots for tuition-paying families are currently full. Call Wendy McKenna at 541-737-2209 to request an application for Head Start. Those wishing to sign up for the waiting list for tuition paying spots can call Sandi Hunt at 541-737-8261, or leave a message for Kathleen McDonnell at 541-737-2516.