Pre-K And Kindergarten Teachers Convene To Boost Student Preparedness

Friday, July 11, 2014

Two hundred and fifty Hamilton County school administrators, pre-K and kindergarten teachers will gather on Tuesday to learn more about how to help students develop the skills they need to get a successful start in school.  The first  Pre-K/Kindergarten Institute will meet from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the University Center on the campus of UTC.

Educator Jonathan Fribley will be the keynote speaker.  Mr. Fribley is a long-time early educator, coach and mentor from St Cloud, Mn., who leads professional development focused on young children’s language and literacy development, adult-child interaction, and children’s thinking.   Mr. Fribley recently joined the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota and is in the last year of a 4-year early literacy project with the United Way of Miami.  He believes, as Garrison Keillor says, “Nothing you do for a child is ever wasted.” 

“Kindergarten is where students really start to read,” says Becky Coleman, director of Literacy for Hamilton County schools.  “We are using data from Read 20’s Kindergarten Screening Tool to help us assess what students know and don’t know so that we can target our instruction to the needs of students.  We want every student to be successful, and this is the way to make that happen.”  

The Hamilton County Department of Education and Read 20 worked together to develop the innovative and much–needed Kindergarten Screening Tool to determine how well a child is prepared as he/she enters kindergarten. The screening tool is research-based and uses a holistic approach including all developmental domains: language, cognition, fine motor, gross motor and social/emotional. 

It measures age-appropriate academic skills – for instance, can the student rhyme two words like “cat” and “hat” – but also measures whether a student can stand on one foot or take turns talking in a conversation.

“Skills like these provide the basis for success in school,” says Shawn Kurrelmeier-Lee, Hamilton County’s chief reading officer.  “Gross and fine motor skills are important for holding pencils and drawing letters, and social skills are important for listening and successful classroom interactions.”  

Most four-year-olds will not have mastered all of these skills, but the more skills they know, the easier it will be to master the all-important task of learning to read, said officials.

Aggregate data from two years of using the Kindergarten Screening Tool will give teachers at the Institute an idea of overall student preparation, and will help pre-k teachers know what they need to work on before they pass their students on to kindergarten classrooms.

"The Kindergarten Screening Tool has proven to be a unique and valuable resource,” says Ms. Kurrelmeier-Lee, who reports getting requests from all over the country for copies of it.

In addition to assessment, other topics covered at the Kindergarten Institute will include Guided Reading; Shared Reading/Room Arrangement/Purposeful Practice and Writer’s Workshop.  

The Pre-K/Kindergarten Institute is an outgrowth of the Scenic City Literacy Conference and continues a partnership between Read 20, Hamilton County schools, and UTC.  This year, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga is joining the partnership as well.

Read 20 is a public/private partnership promoting literacy skills for early childhood, in an effort to create a community of readers, and in support of Hamilton County's community literacy goals. Since it was created in 2006, Read 20 has distributed 492,702 books,  interacted with over 290,991 children, confirmed at least 47,401 adults reading with children every day and provided resources and training for 2,919 teachers in area public schools and day cares.

Cleveland State Employees Receive In-Service Awards

Two Cleveland State Community College employees received awards at a staff in-service.   Emily Hill received the Rising Star Award, while Sheila Smith received the Excellence Award.  The Rising Star Award goes to an employee who has less than three years and a minimum of six months of service to CSCC, displays a positive attitude and a spirit of enthusiasm, ... (click for more)

Lee's Summer Honors Program Has Record Attendance

Lee University’s Summer Honors residential program concluded another two-week term, exposing high-achieving students to numerous aspects of college life at Lee.  This year’s Summer Honors drew 173 students to Lee’s campus, an all-time record for attendance.   While at Summer Honors, students got a head start on their college career by earning six hours of academic ... (click for more)

Muslim Advocacy Group Questions House Arrest For Signal Mountain Man Charged In Threats Against Muslim Village In New York

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, on Saturday questioned the release of a Signal Mountain man who admitted to planning what it called "a Charleston-style terror attack" on a Muslim community in New York. CAIR also called for stepped up protection for the community targeted in the plot. Judge ... (click for more)

Plumbers Bring Complaints To WWTA; Told New Contracts Are Ready

Several plumbers on Thursday brought complaints to a committee of the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) and got little response other than being told that new contracts are ready. Kay Keefe of Keefe Plumbing said the small number of plumbing companies still participating in the program to repair leaky lines to homes, have long been operating without ... (click for more)

Could The Marriage Decision Spark A New Independence Day?

I confess that this year I am having a hard time with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day. It is not because I am not thankful to God for what was done on that day, what it represents, and the blessings I’ve experienced that flow from it. On the other hand, I want to think that maybe this year’s celebration will mark a period in our history in which a new movement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Dr. Tydings Is A Winner

One week from tomorrow the most important educator in the future of our community will start work as the new president of Chattanooga State. While I am normally cynical of beard-strokers and foundation-hungry dreamers who have little or no concept of the real world, I am convinced Flora Tydings will become the best thing to happen in our community in years. A grandmother with ... (click for more)