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Formal education begins for students when they turn four years old and registration for those students who plan to attend pre-K or kindergarten in Upshur County Schools is Friday, March 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Event Center at Brushy Fork. Some pre-K and kindergarten classrooms in Upshur County will be piloting a new program for the upcoming school year called the Reggio Emilia Approach.

Upshur County Schools to test drive Reggio Emilia approach in some pre-K, K classrooms

BUCKHANNON – It’s that time of year again when young students will need to be enrolled to attend Upshur County Schools pre-K and kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

The registration day for Pre-K and Kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year for Upshur County Schools will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, March 20 at the Event Center at Brushy Fork, located at 929 Brushy Fork Road in Buckhannon.

First, who needs to enroll?

For students to enroll in Pre-K, they must be four years old on or before June 30, 2020. Those wanting to enroll in kindergarten must be five years old on or before June 30, 2020.

The day of registration, Upshur County schools asks that parents and guardians bring their children to be registered because they will be conducting speech, developmental, hearing and vision screenings.

The forms needed for registration include a birth certificate issued by the state (not issued by the county), an immunization record (which may be obtained from the child’s physician), a HealthCheck form (which may be obtained from the child’s physician) and verification of a dental exam (Upshur County dentists have been provided with a form.)

Appointments for the day are not necessary. Officials said even if all the paperwork is not available, they still encourage parents and guardians to come and register their student or students so they can be on the list for pre-K or kindergarten classes. If the child is unable to attend on the day of registration, the health screenings will be conducted at the beginning of school.

State issued birth certificates are available online here.

Forms required for enrolling children can be downloaded and completed before the registration day and are available online at www.upshurschools.com.

So, what should parents of pre-K and kindergarten students expect for their young learners?

My Buckhannon sat down with Upshur County Schools officials to learn what pre-K is all about and to understand what the new pilot program, which uses the Reggio Emilia Approach, offers for these students.

Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said everyone is excited for this new direction for early learning education.

“This pilot is based on a program developed in Italy after World War II and known in early childhood circles for valuing young children,” she said. “It is inspiring our teachers in Upshur County.”

Stankus went on to share that Upshur County Schools received a grant from the West Virginia Department of Education for the pilot program. She said several of pre-K and kindergarten instructors in Upshur County are diligently learning more about the approach and are working to pilot a similar program in their Upshur County classrooms.

“The Reggio philosophy is an approach to teaching, learning and advocacy for children that encompasses the local culture and community, and emphasizes building and sustaining relationships,” Stankus said. “Reggio Emilia Founder Loris Malaguzzi and author of ‘The Hundred Languages of Children’ believed that children have ‘a hundred worlds to discover, a hundred worlds to invent and a hundred worlds to dream.’”

Lori Woods, Upshur County Schools Pre-K Coordinator, said she is very excited for the schools to use the Reggio Emilia Approach with the younger learners.

“This approach has been around for a long time and it is child-focused,” Woods said. “It is what is best for children – it is child-focused and is developmentally appropriate and fits in with what the State of West Virginia wants us to be doing in our pre-K classes. It is a really good match.”

Woods said she is excited that Upshur County Schools was selected to pilot the Reggio Emilia Approach.

“The program focuses on what the children find interesting,” Woods said. “Right now, teachers are planning the lessons. With this approach, the community and the culture of the area is very important also.”

Woods said she thinks the program will be great for the students, their parents, the schools and the community.

Janet Bock-Hager, pre-K coordinator from the Office of Early and Elementary Learning, spent a day recently speaking with Upshur teachers, assistants and principals about the sites selected for the pilot program. She shared that part of the grant funds will be used for a trip to the Cyert Center for Early Education at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

“I’m excited to learn more about the Reggio Emilia Approach and how we can adapt it to our classrooms,” Woods said. “Focusing on children and their ‘hundred languages’ is what we should be doing in our classrooms.”

Stankus said the classrooms selected for the Reggio Emilia Approach pilot program include pre-K and kindergarten classrooms at Hodgesville Elementary, the pre-K classroom at Union Elementary and the kindergarten classrooms at Tennerton Elementary.

Woods said at the pre-K and kindergarten registration on March 20, Head Start will be on hand to register three-year-old students for their program.

“Head Start is not part of Upshur County Schools, but they will be at the enrollment to enroll children at that time, too,” Woods said. “We are just helping to spread the word. We want them to get kids enrolled as well.”

Those with questions about pre-K and kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year may call Upshur County Schools at 304-472-5480 and speak with Jody Johnson at extension 1070 about kindergarten or Woods at extension 1043 about pre-K.

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