The new Early Childhood Center, located at 5402 Hudson Ave., opened on March 6. The facility includes 10 classrooms, including one classroom for pre-kindergarten disabled students, said Principal Timothy Schroeder. Each of the 10 classrooms in the new facility has 15 students supervised by a certified early childhood teacher and one teacher's assistant. The disabled pre-school class has fewer students.
The facility will also house an office for an additional Child Study Team, and a community room where Schroeder said he hopes to hold parent meetings and seminars.
"Early detection is crucial to a child that may have difficulty learning," said Schroeder about the on-site Child Study Team planned for the facility.
More rooms, including a full-service kitchen, a multi-purpose room, and a "green room" full of plants, will be completed next month, as will an outdoor playground.
A New Jersey Supreme Court ruling made it mandatory for Abbott (special needs) School Districts, including West New York, to provide a free, full-day program for preschool students wishing to attend public school. Before Sept. 1 2001, the state only mandated a three-hour day for pre-school students.
This year is the second year that West New York has provided a full-day pre-school for 3- and 4-year old students.
More in district
With the addition of the new center, the West New York School District is now able to provide 315 4-year-old students with an early childhood program in district.
The 10 new classrooms helped the district expand its program from eight classrooms during the last school year to 21 classrooms this school year.
The other early childhood classrooms within the district include three classrooms at the Amvets Center on Boulevard East, five modular classrooms at Public School No. 2, two classes at Public School No. 3 and one classroom at Public School No. 4.
However, with 880 registered early childhood students, the district is still contracting with 17 early childhood education providers.
According to Adrienne Sires, the district's director of educational programs, there are 135 4-year-old students attending classes with the private providers, as well as all of the district's 3-year-old students.
"These centers can have anywhere from one to eight classes," said Sires, adding that it depends on the size of the center.
Sires said that the district plans to continue to use out-of-district providers for its 3-year-old students.
A great environment
When walking through the brightly colored yellow, blue and green hallways of the new facility, one can peek into the classrooms through different-shaped windows and see the display cases that will eventually hold the students' artwork.
"It is crucial that we provide a warm and inviting environment that allows the child to discover on their own," said Schroeder.
Until the display cases are ready to hold the artwork, each teacher has prominently displayed the work around their classrooms.
Sires said that the building was designed using ideas from early childhood centers around the state.
"We used a combination of a lot of ideas from different buildings," said Sires. "It was nice that we were able to pick out what we wanted."
Each classroom is separated into different workstations where the children can play and learn. Some of these stations include reading, writing, building blocks and science.
"Education is a process that is thrilling and about discovery on their part," said Schroeder. He explained that students can tell the class what they learned in their stations during "circle time."
Parents also are encouraged to take part in the students' education.
Schroeder said that each parent is asked to walk his or her child directly to the classroom door each morning and to pick them up there as well.
"Every parent has the opportunity to communicate with their child's teacher," said Schroeder. "We are looking for a great deal of parent involvement."
The students have also been able to learn outside of the classroom. One class recently visited Children's Museum in Paramus on a field trip.
A full day
Along with the full-day of instruction from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the district also provides wrap-around hours from 7:30 a.m. to 8: 30 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. This district has contracted with Aramark Medallion, a Colorado-based company, to provide instruction during these wrap-around hours.
"Education works with the effort put forth by students, teachers, parents and the community," said Schroeder. "I think we have all segments here."
According to Maggie Adasse, the site administrator from Aramark Medallion, 75 of the 140 students at the center take advantage of the service.
"This is a great opportunity for the parents," said Adasse. "Every year of course, there are more."