Early education is small step toward big future

By BY ROBERT JAKLICH
July 15, 2017 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated July 16, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Robert Jaklich

Robert Jaklich   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

The Victoria Independent School District believes strongly in the benefits of early education instruction, and we are passionate in our commitment to the 600-plus pre-K students we currently serve in our schools. The motto of the VISD Early Childhood Program is "Small Steps toward Big Futures." Once again for 2017-18 school year, our award-winning VISD pre-K classrooms will be composed of a highly qualified teacher, a certified teaching assistant and a 22-1 student-teacher staffing ratio. Our prekindergarten curriculum, Developmental Learning Materials (DLM), offers comprehensive child-centered instruction with strong teacher support and an emphasis on 21st-century technology. Each DLM classroom is equipped with an interactive Smartboard and focuses on Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, Health and Safety, Personal Development, Physical Development and Technology. DLM also links essential disciplines to make instruction more relevant, which, in turn, helps children recognize patterns in their learning.

The benefits of a high-quality early childhood educational program are well documented. Pre-K instruction increases our students' academic skills (language development) as well as enhancing social skills, emotional and motor skills, problem-solving techniques and relationship-building abilities. Early childhood educational programs also include ongoing evaluations of our students that can identify early interventions, such as speech processing and learning difficulties. Studies show students who participate in strong early education programs are more likely to graduate in four years and take more advanced and higher-level courses and are less likely to drop out of school than students who did not attend an early education program. Research also indicates students who attended a high-quality early education program were better equipped to face the rigors of school as well as life.

Currently, the state of Texas only funds half-day prekindergarten for students who meet certain eligibility requirements. As school districts across the state struggle to meet financial challenges in terms of school funding, the VISD Board of Trustees along with our school district remains steadfast in our commitment to provide our students with a high-quality full-day pre-K experience. In fact, we also have a tuition-based full-day pre-K program for students who do not meet the state eligibility requirements for a cost of $3,600. Children who are four years old on or before September 1, 2017, and who do not qualify for either the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) or the state-funded pre-K are eligible to enroll in the tuition-based prekindergarten program. As a school district, we are extremely proud of our efforts regarding the tuition-based expansion opportunity and are confident the children who participate in this program will benefit greatly from the excellent instruction provided by our highly qualified classroom teachers and paraprofessionals. To date, we have more than 67 families registered for our tuition-based pre-K program, and we are still accepting applications for both the state and tuition-based programs.

Families who register prekindergarten students will receive an invitation for the fourth annual "Minnow Camp Kick-Off" to be held in all prekindergarten classrooms August 17th from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. "Minnow Camp Kick-Off" is a special time reserved for our youngest students to visit their new school. During this special event, prekindergarten students will visit their classrooms, meet their teachers and classmates and enjoy various activities. Attending this exciting event will help prepare your child for a successful first day of school and allow them to become familiar with their new school. Also, during our Minnow Camp Kick-Off, parents will have the opportunity to learn more about campus procedures, receive information on the importance of pre-K and explore the reasons our home/school partnerships are essential to the success of our young students. All registered V.I.S.D. prekindergarten students who attend "Minnow Camp Kick-Off" will receive a free "Class of 2031" T-shirt, a set of alphabet letters with activities, a book from our friends at H-E-B and family support tips.

For further information on pre-K eligibility and the registration process, you may contact your neighborhood school, call our Federal Programs office at 361-788-9294 or visit our website at visd.net.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." On behalf of our Board of Trustees and the entire VISD, thank you for understanding that nothing great can be created suddenly, that progress always involves risks and that we can never become the school district we aspire to be by remaining where we are. We are "VISD Proud."

Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.


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