Allen Brook adjusts to all-day kindergarten (Sept. 18, 2008)

Observer photo by Tim Simard
Kindergarten students Ashton Moshovetis (from left), Kyle Rexford, Celia Cote and Lizzie Maklad enjoy a creative playtime on Monday during Sarah Read’s class. This is the first year the Williston School District has all-day kindergarten.  –Read more here….

Allen Brook adjusts to all-day kindergarten (Sept. 18, 2008)

Sept. 18, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

It was reading time in kindergarten teacher Jen Canfield’s class Monday afternoon, and she was busy getting her class of 5-year-olds ready for the lesson. At 1 p.m., it was about five hours into the students’ full-day kindergarten class.

Observer photo by Tim Simard
Kindergartener Shahin Ardesh builds shapes on Monday afternoon in Sarah Read’s class.

“I want you to show me buddy reading. Can you show me what it looks like?” Canfield asked the class as students partnered up to read together.

Soon, all the students had found buddies and began looking through the colorful picture books.

This is the first school year with full-day kindergarten in the Williston School District after years of a half-day program. All seven classes are being housed at Allen Brook School.

Canfield said the full-day changes were an adjustment, but are a welcome change. She likes the added time and what it will mean for improving her students’ learning skills.

“It helps us to support them in social learning,” Canfield said.

Anne Macnee, who used to teach half-day kindergarten at Williston Central School, enjoys how the full-day setting allows for a more relaxed classroom and more time for teaching.

“Personally, I’m loving the full-day kindergarten,” Macnee said. “The pacing is much better.”


Into the swing of things

According to Allen Brook Principal John Terko, the school’s first weeks of full-day kindergarten have been going “really well.” The classrooms aren’t yet into the full academic schedules they’ll have for the rest of the year, but that should come soon, Terko said. Mainly, students have been learning rules and expectations, as well as getting to know each other.

“I’ve noticed each week has become a little bit easier,” he said.

When the kindergarten program had only its half-day sessions — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — students only had two hours and 23 minutes of school, Terko estimated. With full-day kindergarten, students are now at school for six hours, allowing for a less rushed learning experience, Terko said.

While kindergarten students continue to have library and physical education time during the week, a music and art program has been added because of the additional time. Terko also said the classes will have around two hours more each day for core subjects, including English, math, science and social studies. Terko added there was plenty of time for students to play and they enjoy a 30-minute outdoor recess.

“Kindergarten is very much a combination of academics and play,” Terko said.

Enrollment in kindergarten is higher than the district expected, Terko said, with 125 students. The school originally expected 110 students. He said the administration had added another classroom teacher in June in anticipation of larger enrollment.

Laura Dyer, formerly a grade one and two teacher, took the new kindergarten position. Former Allen Brook math interventionist Sarah Read replaced outgoing kindergarten teacher Carmen LaFlamme.

Also during the first few weeks, teachers and staff have been rescheduling the lunch times of all the kindergarten classes. Originally, all classes ate together, but Terko said there were too many students in the lunchroom and it became too hectic for everyone involved.

In the new schedule, three classrooms have recess from 10 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. before returning to the rooms for more instruction. Of those three classes, one room eats at 11:20 a.m. and two eat at 11:40 a.m.

The other four classrooms have recess from 10:30 a.m. until 11 a.m., then immediately head to the lunchroom until 11:20 a.m. Terko said organizing this schedule has been his “biggest issue.”

“Parents have been very supportive of what we’ve been doing here,” Terko said.

Teachers and parents

Teachers, like Macnee and Canfield, are also supportive of the longer day and the extra time they have with students. Read, who’s teaching a classroom for the first time, said it’s “much different” than her previous role as math interventionist. She said she enjoys teaching her students a variety of subjects, including math.

“And I get to read to them, a lot,” Read said.

School Board member Laura Gigliotti, who’s son has Macnee for a teacher, said she was at first unsure of how her son would do in a full-day setting, but has been “pleasantly surprised.”

“(Macnee) has done a really good job making it fun for them,” Gigliotti said.

Gigliotti, who’s daughter had Macnee four years ago in the half-day kindergarten program, said it’s still early in the year to know how the full-day program will be for everyone, but so far so good. Gigliotti said her son isn’t “worn out” at the end of the day and is ready to go back to school every morning.

“He is still very, very excited to go to school, which, truthfully, I didn’t expect,” Gigliotti said.

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