550 New Students In 2013-14

Coweta County celebrates 20 years of pre-K

by Staff Reports

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Submitted Photo

The Coweta County School System was recently recognized as being among a small number of school system in Georgia offering have offered pre-K classes for 20 years. Above, Jefferson Parkway Elementary Pre-K teacher Pam Sandlin works with 4-year-old students Rayburn Jones, Mydreyanna Mitchell, Caleb Conselyea, Nadia Hernandez, Derek Clark and Emily Solis.

Coweta County School System is wrapping up its 20th year of providing classroom instruction to 4-year-olds.With pre-kindergarten registration complete for the upcoming school year, the system’s 19 elementary schools are gearing up to welcome 550 new students to pre-K programs in 2013-14.

Coweta was one of a handful of school systems participating in Georgia’s pre-K program pilot in 1992, and thousands of preschool-age students have been served in Coweta schools since then.

“We continue to maintain a strong commitment to our brightest and best students in early learning,” said Lisa Copeland, who took over the administration of Coweta’s pre-K programs late last year after longtime director David Gregory retired.

Copeland represented Coweta schools at a state pre-K celebration led by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in March. Georgia’s pre-K program has moved from serving a few hundred children two decades ago to becoming the most successful pre-K effort in the nation, serving more than 83,000 children in every county in the state in 2013.

“It was an unprecedented feeling, being able to attend that ceremony,” said Copeland. “It spoke to the legacy that our county has helped create, and it was wonderful to have our commitment to our early childhood population recognized.”

Pre-K classes are open to students who are four years old on or before Sept. 1. Pre-K teachers are certified with a least a four-year degree in early childhood education, and they provide instructional activities and learning experiences in the areas of language/literacy, math, art, science, social studies and creative expressions. Each pre-K class features a lead certified teacher and an assistant.

Pam Sandlin has taught pre-K in Coweta for 10 years and she highly recommends the program to parents.

“I tell them it is such a good transitional year before kindergarten,” said Sandlin, who teaches at Jefferson Parkway Elementary School, which also serves pre-K students from the Ruth Hill, Elm Street, Atkinson districts. “In my experience, students get a foot in the door and they benefit from really strong, early academic attention before they enter kindergarten and first grade.”

Sandlin – a former preschool, kindergarten and first grade teacher – was part of a group which began at Maggie Brown when that historic downtown Newnan school was converted to a pre-K school.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching pre-K,” said Sandlin. “We have some fantastic pre-K teachers in our county, and a strong program.”

Sandlin says she enjoys teaching 4-year-olds because “they’re just so funny and honest. I really enjoy this age, and they are very loveable. There are times they look at you and call you mama, and they don’t even think about it. You don’t get that with fifth-graders too often.”

Unlike other elementary grades, there are a limited number of pre-K classes in Coweta schools. If more than 22 students apply for an available pre-K class, the school must hold a lottery drawing to determine placement in the class.The first 22 students drawn will be awarded a spot in that school’s pre-K class; the remaining names are placed in order of draw on a waiting list for that school in case places become available in the class.

Parents who pre-registered for 2013-14 pre-K classes whose children were drawn for a class slot will formally register their children for school in April.


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