Tallassee Elementary School
Pre-K program taking applicants
By Leigh Anne Butler
First Class Pre-K is a part of the State of Alabama’s voluntary Pre-K program. The purpose of the program is to allow four-year-olds access to excellent early learning classrooms which prepare them for school.
Tallassee Elementary School offers two First Class Pre-K classrooms with 18 students in each classroom.
"This is our (Tallassee) fourth year doing First Class Pre-K," stated Hillary Eckstein, a Tallassee Pre-K lead teacher. "The first year we only had one class but the second year we were able to add another class. Now we have two classes which provide more opportunities for our community. It’s great that it’s growing."
Enrollment is open to all children four years of age on or before Sept. 1, 2021. Students must meet Tallassee City School’s zoning requirements to be eligible for the program. Pre-registration is open through Feb. 26.
"A big part of what we focus on in Pre-K is to provide developmentally appropriate practices for our students,” Eckstein continued. "A lot of what we do is learned through play. Each classroom has a lead teacher and an auxiliary teacher.
"As the 18 children in our classroom are learning through play, the teachers make sure they have intentional teaching time with each student. It’s a great way to teach because you get to know them, know their interests and then you get to help them learn through those interest so then they are more engaged in learning."
"A big part of what we do is get them ready for a structured environment. When they come to us and when they leave us they are completely different children,” stated Eckstein. "When they come to us a lot of them don’t know how to line up in a line, they don’t know how to share with friends or how to communicate their wants and needs.
"Most of them have never been in that type of setting before. Our goal is to make sure they feel comfortable in our school system so that when they go to kindergarten those are things they do not have to worry about. When they go to kindergarten, they are the leaders in the classroom."
Tallassee Elementary School is currently accepting pre-registration applications for the First Class Pre-K online at https://alprek.asapconnected.com. Enrollees must provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate and two proofs of residence (current utility bill, copy of lease or mortgage).
These documents may be uploaded into the online pre-registration site or submitted directly to Tallassee Elementary School. There is no registration fee for this program and upon enrollment, the child’s immunization record must be provide. No child will be denied participation on basis of income, sex, race, color, national origin or disability.
Children who pre-register will be entered into a random selection process.
Wendy Cowan, Tallassee City Schools Federal Programs Coordinator, explained, "We have a random drawing scheduled for March 17 at 3:30. We are unsure due to COVID-19 whether it will be live at Tallassee Elementary School or if we will do it virtually. We will have more details closer to the drawing. We have 18 children per class, so 36 total will be selected for the program."
Children who are not selected will be placed on a waiting list for future available spaces.
"I have seen kids over the years that have benefited from being in the program," Cowan added. "It is such a benefit for a child to go into kindergarten with exposure to a classroom environment and learning. This program just really helps and we hope it continues to grow."