While at a brainstorming session about early learning resources in the Nampa School District this afternoon, Idaho AEYC’s Preschool the Idaho Way Collaborative Director Erika Lewis sat down with Ben Kincheloe, principal of the Nampa Early Childhood Learning Center. The developmental preschool currently serves about 180 students in six classrooms at a single location, but it has plans to expand its pre-K options to even more students. Here’s what Kincheloe had to say during a quick Q&A:
Where do you see the Nampa Early Childhood Learning Center going in the next year?
Next year, we want to expand and add a class for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. We’re going to have a single classroom that will have the possibility to serve children who are in our district at those ages. There will be a morning session four days a week, and an afternoon session four days a week – we’ll have the 3-year-olds in one group and the 4-year-olds in another group. We are going to have about 12 to 14 kids in each of those sessions.
Along with that, we are going to be working on partnerships within the community to better serve the families of children at that age as well. We’re going to take the steps to establish that over the course of the entire year.
What are some of the things you like most about the program?
It really helps the kids out. We have amazing teachers, and everyone who works there is just wonderful. They’re very knowledgeable about the needs of those children. They don’t just support the academics – they support the social and emotional, they support all other needs. And they work great as a team in doing so. Not only do they support the children, they also help to educate the families. And they provide resources – or access to resources if we’re not the right ones to give it – to help support those children beyond the time they have in our classrooms. I think they do an amazing job serving the children that do come to us.
What’s some of the feedback you’ve received from parents of students in the program?
I just had several meetings this week with families, and the one that comes first to mind is a family that was extremely thankful. They just moved into our area. Their child hasn’t attended all year long, but in the few months that they’ve been in attendance they have seen enormous growth. And that’s one of the biggest differences that a pre-K program can do, because early intervention makes a huge, huge difference for children. That family, in particular, can communicate better with their child and see that significant difference in their relationship with their child. That is what they were really delighted with.