Eddy School pre-k reaches 15-student maximum

Posted:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 8:15am

The Class of 2031 is now in session, at least in Edgecomb. Edgecomb Eddy School began its first pre-kindergarten class this fall with 11 students and it didn’t take long before reaching the maximum capacity of 15. A combination of Edgecomb 4-year-olds, tuition students and new arrivals contributed in bringing a full classroom for pre-kindergarten teacher Cindy Casey and educational technician Deborah Beam.

The 15 students have made a big difference in this year’s enrollment. Last summer, there were 77 students in the kindergarten through grade six school. With the new pre-kindergarten class, enrollment has reached 82, the highest number since the new school opened in 2002 when it also had 82 students. Last year, without the additional class, school officials estimated an enrollment in the low sixties for this year.

Faced with a decreasing enrollment, school officials sought alternative measures in attracting more students. Two ideas emerged. One was seeking more tuition students and the other was introducing a full-day pre-kindergarten class. In October, new Principal Ira Michaud reported to the school committee the plan had worked. The school had significantly increased enrollment for the first time in several years.

The pre-kindergarten class began with 11 students in the fall, but a couple new families moved to town which increased class size to the current 15. The new class also began with four students from Alna and one from Westport Island. In total, the school has 12 tuition students this year.

Michaud reported a strong start for the class. “The pre-k is having an amazing time. Mrs. Casey and Mrs. Beam are effectively piloting a group of very young students. Whenever I enter the room, I find students who are engaged in learning, well-behaved and respectful,” he said.

Casey taught kindergarten for the last six years at the school. She previously taught pre-kindergarten in a Montesorri school and Head Start program for nine years. As far as teaching, it’s pretty much the same curriculum whether it’s for 4- or 5-year-olds, according to Casey.

“There is not that much off a difference, but the younger kids may need a little extra guidance to do certain things. But there hasn’t been  any real problems, they are a great group of kids,” she said.

Each day follows a typical pattern. Students start their day during an outdoor recess. Once they come inside, they sit in a circle and Casey leads them in songs  Next, she begins teaching about the calendar. The lesson includes learning about the days of the week, dates and months. After the students have a snack, they continue their lessons in counting and literacy.  The students can count to 50 and are learning how to identify and match capital and lowercase letters. As the students became more proficient in counting, it led to counting groups. Casey used the number of school days to teach counting by tens.

“Once we got to 40, it became more time-consuming, so we began by counting by tens. I used popsicle sticks, and had them put them in groups of tens,” she said.

The class size isn’t the only thing that has grown since the school year began. Casey is amazed at how her students have grown physically and academically.

“You see it every week,” she said. “Yes, they are getting taller, but they are also grasping concepts very quickly. Seeing them grow is the best part of my job,” Casey said.

Edgecomb’s pre-kindergarten is capped at 15 students based on state standards. The Maine Department of Education requires one teacher and one support staff per 15 pre-kindergarten students.