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All-day K program getting noticed nationally



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May 11, 2011 - Lake Orion Community Schools all-day, every-day kindergarten program was recently honored. It was selected for the Magna Best Practices Database based on the program's innovative practices. The program was one of only 114 highly-scored programs selected from the 359 nominations received.

"We are all very honored," said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Heidi Kast.

The Magna Best Practices Database provides the education world with a searchable resource for innovative best practices, proven and practical solutions for big and small district problems, and new ideas. Each year, the database selects the highest-scoring programs from those submitted and adds them to the database, where they will be available for at least five years. Lake Orion's all-day, every-day kindergarten program is now available in the database.

"We have already been contacted by several other districts about our kindergarten program," Kast said.

According to Kast, this is the second year for the program. She said, Lake Orion decided to create this program because the existing kindergarten program "lacked consistency for learning and created a difficult transition for some students to first grade." Prior to the all-day program, some students went all-day, some went on alternative days.

"First grade teachers noticed the difference," she said, adding the students in the alternative program were behind.

After input from the first grade teachers, the district formed a committee of teachers, administration and an early childhood development consultant from Oakland Intermediate School District.

"We wanted to know if kindergarten kids were too young to go to school all day," Kast said. "The piece we found to make this work was play time kids need time to play. So, we built it into the program."

At the end of the program's first year, the district surveyed parents and received plenty of positive input. Kast said, this year the district will survey teachers, to see what they think.

The goal of the program is to ensure a solid educational foundation for young learners by developing and implementing an exemplary all day every day kindergarten program that is academically, socially, emotionally, and developmentally appropriate for all students.

"The focus is not about the child being ready for kindergarten, but rather the program being ready for the child, all children," Kast said.

This year there are 22 kindergarten classes in Lake Orion, with 550 kindergarteners. The program is now available in the Magan database, at www.asbj.com/magna.

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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