On July 25, 2017 forty-two soon to be kindergarten students entered Mary Raber Elementary School with wide eyes filled with wonder and excitement on their very first day of Kindergarten Countdown! Students were divided into four groups and were teamed-up with licensed kindergarten teachers to begin their two-week jump start on learning. During their experience, students participated in a variety of activities including story time, morning meeting, counting, grouping, music time, recess and lunch. Teachers involved with Kindergarten Countdown reported measurable change in the students from their first day to their final day in the program. New to the program this year was WCCS Kindergarten teacher Pam Anglin who found the program extremely beneficial not only for the exposure it provided to students but also for her, as a teacher, as it enabled her to work with and get to know quite a few of the students who were registered to be in her kindergarten classroom for the 2017 – 2018 school year.
The teachers involved with Kindergarten Countdown this year were Erin Fudge, Monica Ralston, Heather Shively and Pam Anglin. All say Kindergarten Countdown not only benefits students, but teachers as well and allows them the opportunity to become familiar with students who will be in their classrooms or school buildings once the school year begins. The program also provides for an increased awareness of student needs prior to the school year beginning allowing faculty and staff to ensure appropriate resources are in place to handle whatever those needs may be.
Parents and families of students who participated in Kindergarten Countdown were treated to a short presentation and reception on the final day of the program. As students were leaving, each was given a new backpack filled with five new reading books and school supplies for the upcoming school year.
ABOUT KINDERGARTEN COUNTDOWN
Kindergarten Countdown is a collaborative program between United Way of Whitley County and Whitley County Consolidated Schools. Kindergarten Countdown targets incoming kindergarten students and works with them to better prepare them for being in a classroom all day; many of the students involved have never had any previous experience being in preschool or other structured learning environment.
Kindergarten Countdown was made possible through a matching grant to United Way of Whitley County from Indiana United Ways. Thanks to the generosity of the following organizations and individuals, United Way of Whitley County raised $20,000 which was matched through Indiana United Ways solidifying the $40,000 seed funds needed to initiate the five-year pilot program. Donors who contributed to make this grant possible were: Community Foundation of Whitley County, Five Star Distributing, Fort Wayne Metals, Horizon Bank, Indiana Materials Processing, PDQ Workholding, Reelcraft Industries, The HANDS Foundation, Ralph Bailey, Dave and Barb Bilger, Candy Bower, and James and Kathy Heuer.