Kindergarten Reconfiguration Rationale
Wyoming Valley West School District
- The Third Avenue building was designed and built specifically as an elementary school. It includes child-friendly built-ins, equipment, and layout, including classroom lavatories and single-level access to all rooms. It provides an educational setting with building access and playground area sheltered from the street and public view. It also includes access to athletic fields that abut the school grounds, providing an ideal setting for work and play for Kindergarten students.
- By contrast, Kindergarten students currently housed at Schuyler Ave. and Chester St. navigate multi-story buildings for lavatory access, lunch, and instruction in special subjects. Their playground areas are asphalt; the Schuyler Ave playground is also next to an industrial and commercial area. Additionally, both Chester and Schuyler are in locations that are highly visible and accessible to the public. Students awaiting building entry or playing on the playgrounds are in areas that cannot be secured or monitored as easily as the space at Third Ave.
- Kindergarten is not a required component of public education, yet all educational research supports the need for early childhood education. Wyoming Valley West has offered full day Kindergarten programs for decades and is committed to excellence in our early childhood program.
- In our larger elementary centers there are several sections of Kindergarten classes that allow the Kindergarten curriculum to be implemented as a department.
- Smaller elementary buildings have not had that departmental experience. Currently, two of the four sections of Kindergarten which would be brought into this Kindergarten Center are isolated Kindergarten classes in older buildings with the majority of students in the buildings in grades 1-5. Uniting these 4 Kindergarten classes as well as Kindergarten special needs classes in one center allows for greater peer interaction and socialization opportunities.
- Additionally, it allows for unified and cohesive instruction of the entire student body. The entire focus and function of the building will be dedicated specifically to early childhood, without the other concerns of multi-grade settings.
- For curricular planning and implementation, it provides for greater unity, networking, and collaboration among the Kindergarten faculty, including the special needs classroom teachers.
- Unifying Kindergarten in one instructional setting does not negatively impact the continuum of education in the elementary curriculum. As the child’s first experience in the public school program, Kindergarten does not follow any other public school program and lends itself to creativity in implementation without a break in building continuity.
- Additionally, the program in Kindergarten differs from grades 1-5 more than any of those grades differ from each other. It is a time for exploration of student abilities, talents, and potential as well as being a time for growth in the student’s understanding and awareness of the social and instructional environment of the school setting. Students in this level are also more teacher-centered than at any other age and grade level, and consolidating these classes into one setting can provide a safe, secure, and nurturing environment for students.
POSITIVE IMPACT ON ELEMENTARY BUILDINGS:
The impact of this reconfiguration on other Elementary buildings is only positive. Removing the Early Childhood Kindergarten program from the building allows for greater academic focus in grade 1-5. Since Kindergarten is an emergent literacy/early reading and beginning math skills based program, the more advanced ELA and Math skills, as well as those of other curricular areas, can more easily become a building-wide focused initiative involving grades 1-5. The rooms made available are freed up for other uses, including potential reduction of class sizes as well as learning support and therapy uses.
The consolidation of Chester and Third classes in grades 1-5 into one building also allows for more age- and grade-level peer interaction as well as grade level teacher collaboration, since, up to now, those regular education classrooms have also been single units in their respective elementary buildings. This will not only improve student socialization opportunities for all students, it will increase the cohesiveness of instruction in the planned curriculum.