Source: Sherman Publications

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Brandon School District: Littlest learners move to elementary buildings

by Susan Bromley

September 11, 2013

Brandon Twp.- The youngest students in Harvey Swanson Elementary this past week were not, as in years past, kindergarteners.

Instead, on Tuesday, a room full of busy 3- and 4-year-olds played with blocks, books, and even with sand in a box elevated to the perfect height for preschoolers. Sept. 10 was the first day of preschool in the Brandon School District, and for the first time, the littlest learners here are in the elementary schools.

"It's awesome having them in the elementary," said Diane Zedan, preschool director for Brandon. "They have more appropriate peers to interact with, there is cross integration with older students, and they are in a building they will be in next year, or something similar. It will be a great transition."

For the past few years, preschool classes in the district have been concentrated in the H.T. Burt building, where the Brandon Alternative High School was also housed. Previously, preschool and the alternative high school were in the Sherman Lifelong Learning Center, which will be demolished this fall. A reconfiguration of buildings this year to save money has all fourth grade classes now taught at Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School (along with fifth and sixth grades), moved the alternative high school to the former Belle Ann Elementary building (with part of that facility now closed) and has all K-3 classes at Oakwood and Harvey Swanson now as well as the preschool programs.

Harvey Swanson has the Brandon Preschool Academy, a tuition-based preschool for children ages 2-and-a-half to 5-years-old, in which there is a morning class and an afternoon class; and also houses the Great Start Readiness Program, a state-funded preschool for children who will be 4 by Nov. 1 and who qualify based on family income or additional risk factors. GSRP is a full-day preschool.

Oakwood Elementary also has a GSRP classroom, as well as Headstart, another income-based preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. GSRP, Headstart, and the Brandon Preschool Academy all use Highscope, a state preschool curriculum developed from a research-based study. All preschool classes have a lead teacher and associate teacher or paraprofessional, as well as support staff members.

"The first five years of a child's life are the most impressionable," said Karleigh Sleeper, a preschool teacher in the GSRP class at Harvey Swanson. "Preschool gets them excited for school later and really helps them learn about themselves."

Plus, added teacher Angel Misenar, preschool is great for children emotionally and socially as they make new friends.

For information on preschool enrollment in Brandon, call 248-627-1800.