Magazine article District Administration

Evening Preschool Expands Access and Readiness

Magazine article District Administration

Evening Preschool Expands Access and Readiness

Article excerpt

Vancouver Public Schools in Washington has increased educational opportunities and kindergarten readiness by offering free evening preschool.

Launched three years ago at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, the program--which uses existing kindergarten classrooms and teachers--now operates at nine elementaries with 170 students.

The initiative provides preschool access for families who cannot participate in traditional daytime classes due to work schedules and other issues, says Debra Hale, executive director of elementary-level teaching and learning.

"We've found that it's tough to offer something once a day and meet everyone's needs," says Hale.

The inspiration to offer evening classes came to pre-K teacher Kendra Yamamoto late one night, after she had been approached repeatedly by working parents who were interested in preschool. "I went right in the next day to my boss and told her my idea," says Yamamoto. "She stopped me midsentence and said, 'We're doing this. I don't know how we're going to fund it, but we're going to do it.'"

Yamamoto received a one-time $1,300 AASA grant to launch two eight-week sessions for 30 students. The program's immediate success led to continued financial support from the school board and private donors.

Building a program

Teachers work from a template developed by Yamamoto and instructional partner Kelly Mainka. Program days and lengths vary by schools, and according to staff availability and community need. …

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