KUSD extending preschool program

From left, Wyatt Phillips, Skyler Lowry, Timothy Outlaw and Bridgette Smith engage in play Wednesday during an afternoon preschool session at Manzanita Elementary School. The program will expand onto the Kingman High School campus in the fall.  TERRY ORGAN/Miner

From left, Wyatt Phillips, Skyler Lowry, Timothy Outlaw and Bridgette Smith engage in play Wednesday during an afternoon preschool session at Manzanita Elementary School. The program will expand onto the Kingman High School campus in the fall. TERRY ORGAN/Miner

Rising demand for preschool is one reason why the Kingman Unified School District will add two sessions of three hours each Monday through Thursday beginning in the fall at Kingman High School.

Julie Beyer is the district's preschool coordinator. She works at Manzanita Elementary School, where four teachers oversee morning and afternoon sessions four days per week. A fifth preschool teacher works at Mt. Tipton School in Dolan Springs, where a morning session is offered Monday through Thursday.

The KUSD Governing Board during its meeting Tuesday night approved hiring a new preschool teacher for KHS.

"There are several reasons for expanding the program to the high school," Beyer said. "We can use the same playground there the Little School uses and at the same time give those children a chance to come to preschool. We also need more preschool classes, as we're filling up fast."

Tuition and grants children will be accepted into the program at KHS, which is to be known as Manzanita North.

Tuition would be $150 per month per child for those able to afford it. A grant would cover the fee for 4-year-olds ready to enter kindergarten the following year and who qualify by financial need. Children on the free and reduced-price lunch program would be among those qualified, Beyer said.

Some special needs children also would be admitted into the program at KHS.

Beyer said she anticipates a maximum of 20 children per session. A waiting list has been started, and parents interested may contact Beyer at 753-6413.

There presently are about 150 preschool children district-wide, but that number changes almost weekly, she added.

Preschool children enjoy a variety of activities. In "calendar," they come to know days of the week and learn shapes, colors and patterns. In "circle times," they engage in group activities. In "centers," they move to different areas of the classroom and use assorted materials that develop motor and other skills.

Some KHS students currently work in Little School, a day care center for children up to preschool age.

Space is being modified next to Little School for the preschool program, Beyer said. High school students working in it would be assistants.

"They'll gain knowledge and training to work in either a day care or preschool setting, and we hope some of them will choose to become early childhood teachers," she said.

An internship program for preschool is under development, said Amy West, KUSD career and technical education coordinator.

"Details are still being worked out," West said. "A student working in Little School may also work in combination in preschool as part of a year-long class. It may take a different shape because there's more happening in preschool, such as speech therapists coming in to work with children."

West said she is not currently accepting sign-ups from high school students for the preschool program.

"We have education professions, which is a teacher training program at KHS and an early childhood program," West said. "Depending on what the student wants to do (be a teacher, work as a speech pathologist, etc.) that would influence what type students we get, but they'll probably have to be in one of the two programs."