Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Providing Resources for Parents; Keystone Heights Elementary Uses Center to Help Students, Families

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Providing Resources for Parents; Keystone Heights Elementary Uses Center to Help Students, Families

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS | Keystone Heights Elementary School has long been known as "the hub" of this bustling southern Clay County community nestled amid farms and timber land.

Close-knit, the teachers and staff of the K-6 school know many of their 730 students' families as former students, neighbors or from church. Still, there are a lot of newcomers.

To better serve their students and their families, the school established a Parent Resource Center on campus.

In its inaugural year, the center primarily focuses on kindergarten and first-grade students. Looking nothing like the former storage room it once was, the center boasts bright colors, a homemade quilt and comfy, homey furniture. It's filled with book and learning toys. A large sturdy coffee table salvaged from a garbage bin and cleaned up showroom-nice serves as a work table where students play learning games and reinforce their math, reading and word skills.

The center also serves as a classroom for their parents. They learn fun, easy and practical ways to continue their children's lessons at home. Parents get free educational materials, including books, as well as handmade "make and take" learning activities. Parents learn techniques designed to help them strengthen their child's learning skills.

In addition, students from nearby Keystone Heights High School tutor the students at the center after school. Teacher assistants at the school supervise the tutoring sessions.

About 30 families have come to the center since it opened when school resumed after the summer recess.

'PERFECT PLACE'

Jammie Nichols was among the first group of parents. Her sons are in kindergarten and second grade at the school, which she praised as "excellent because of the teachers."

"The resource center is the perfect place for parents to get extra help for their children," she said. "I've gone there for the kindergarten make and takes ... It really helps them with their reading and math."

One of the best make-and-takes, she said, resembles a board game depicting capital and lowercase letters of the alphabet. It has a homemade pointer her son used to identify letters as she called them out. Another was a counting and math game utilizing clothespins, Nichols said.

"My youngest loves the little make-and-takes that we have brought home for him. He's been doing much, much better since he's been doing the make-and-takes. It's fun for him to do," Nichols said.

WORKING TOGETHER

Teri Sapp, who teaches first-grade reading and math, came up with the idea for the center. Also a parent-school liaison, Sapp saw a desire among parents to help their children learn but uncertainty among some how to do it. …

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