Office of Early Childhood Program
Waterbury Public School System
Patricia Moran, SupervisorMayor O’Leary and the Waterbury Public School System showed their commitment to Waterbury school children Thursday with the opening of the new Office of Early Childhood at 30B Church Street.
The Waterbury Public School Office of Early Childhood services approximately 500 students and supports a staff of over 80 employees. The student population is composed of 108 three year old children and 412 four year old children. Most students are considered academically “high risk” based on pre-screening. We have 43 classrooms in 16 of the city’s Elementary Schools and 1 classroom located within the Waterbury Career Academy. Office of Early Childhood offers both full and half day programs and supports a fully inclusive model in 17 of its classrooms. The program also includes 15 co- taught classrooms. We receive our funding through several grants, namely: Title 1 and 2A, School Readiness, Alliance, Magnet School and General fund.
We have created a standard-based curriculum using power strands. When creating this curriculum, we aligned the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards with the Connecticut Mathematics and Language Arts Standards, the National Common Core Standards, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and International Reading Association recommendations. We use common formative assessments based on these power standards. Our program also utilizes summative assessments such as PELI and ELLCO. Small teams meet in data groups on a bi-weekly basis to affirm the implementation of the 5 Step Data Process Model suggested by the state. SRBI/RTI groups are held daily in all our Pre-Kindergarten classrooms to ensure we are meeting the needs of each and every child, both socially and academically - at their appropriate level.
We have also had the opportunity to provide the Pre-Kindergarten teachers and teacher’s assistants’ exclusive professional development from national presenters as well as our own personal consultant from Houghton Mifflin. This consultant has supported the series in our program for the last three years. The one-on-one attention teachers have received has proven to be most beneficial for the successful implementation of this new reading series. In the past 3 years I have witnessed a paradigm shift with my Pre-Kindergarten teachers. There now is a real understanding of the importance of having developmentally-appropriate expectations. With this, I have also observed a noticeable difference in the classroom environment. A true synthesis of the latest research necessary to promote early literacy has taken place, as evidenced by the activities in the classroom and the pre and post assessment scores of our students. Ultimately, our success has allowed us to provide a seamless transition into the kindergarten classrooms.
We have five Pre-K Instructional Coaches literacy coaches on board. These coaches are highly qualified in early literacy skills and reading readiness. They have worked with our teachers and truly have become a mainstay in our program. These coaches will be sorely missed next year when the grant is over. It is my intent to find funding to support the salaries of these Literacy coaches.
O.E.C. is also supported by School Readiness funding. This grant mandates that the centers become accredited through NAEYC. The classrooms of the Bucks Hill Annex, received NAEYC accreditation in the 2009-2010 school year, with an overall average score of 93%. The Gilmartin classroom will be working toward their accreditation this year. Duggan will follow, with the accreditation process occurring in the 2012-2013 school year. There are aslo several School Readiness centers with available spots. The School Readiness Office is 203-573-6684.
The Office of Early Childhood provides itself with ongoing, positive parent involvement. We are well aware that this office is the first stop for families that are on a long journey towards a bright future in the Waterbury Public School System. In this supportive climate, we provide children and families with all that they will need to have a well-balanced and fulfilling life - both outside and inside of the school building. Our Parent Intervention Specialist works with families helping provide assistance with housing and government programs such as Husky and Wic. We have hosted several Family Nights to assist parents with understanding the importance of family involvement and education. We also provide both verbal and written translation to all families in need.
The O.E.C.program has come a long way in the past 9 years. We have tripled our enrollment, have a standards-based, developmentally-appropriate curriculum and report card, and highly qualified, State of Connecticut certified teachers. It is my sincere hope and vision that we will one day have Pre-Kindergarten classrooms in every elementary school in our great city. We have the knowledge, skill and enthusiasm to move this program forward. We are confident that our students are prepared to enter a rigorous Kindergarten classroom.