Woodland Public Schools partners with Woodland Preschool Co-Op to offer increased enrollment for 2018-2019

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The Woodland Preschool Cooperative, a nonprofit organization offering affordable preschool options to Woodland families, will double its enrollment capacity for the 2018-2019 school year thanks, in part, to an ongoing partnership with Woodland Public Schools.

The Woodland Preschool Cooperative has offered affordable preschool options to Woodland families for more than 20 years.
The Woodland Preschool Cooperative has offered affordable preschool options to Woodland families for more than 20 years.

The plan to increase enrollment at the Cooperative stemmed from a conversation between Asha Riley, Assistant Superintendent for Woodland Public Schools, and Jody Brentin, Executive Board President for the Preschool Co-Op. “Asha asked, ‘what would it take for the Woodland Co-Op to add additional classes’? and that started me thinking,” explained Brentin.

The Woodland Preschool Co-Op will rent an additional portable at Woodland Primary School, available thanks to the construction of Woodland’s new high school in 2015 freeing up much-needed space throughout the district by allowing grade restructuring at each of the district’s schools.  “The most pressing factor was only having one classroom, but once the district told us we could use the open portable, we knew we could do it,” said Brentin.

The Woodland Cooperative Preschool currently serves 44 students attending either a morning or afternoon class Tuesday through Friday during the 2017-18 school year. Thanks to the new classroom, the Co-Op will be adding an additional morning and afternoon section for 2018-19, effectively doubling its enrollment to 80-84 students.

Demand for quality preschool programs continues to increase year-over-year with parents starting to line up at 4 a.m. for the 6 p.m. registration start time for the Woodland Cooperative. “Being able to address a community need is positively huge for us at the Co-Op,” said Ikerd. “The Woodland community is so gracious to us – we’ve had so many amazing parents and children come through our doors so now offering them something more is just fabulous.”

Initial registration for the Woodland Preschool Cooperative’s 2018-19 school year starts Monday, March 26 at 6 p.m. at the Preschool’s main building located on the Woodland Primary School campus at 600 Bozarth Avenue, Woodland, WA 98674. Once all four sections have been fully registered, parents can sign up on a waitlist to have their student accepted to the program should a spot open up. Registration costs $50 with tuition set at $85 per month. “We’re able to keep our costs low by requiring all parents to volunteer each month,” said Brentin. “Parents must volunteer 2-3 days in the classroom each month and are also required to attend monthly meetings.”

Required volunteer work helps the co-op keep its costs low, passing those savings on to Woodland's families.
Required volunteer work helps the co-op keep its costs low, passing those savings on to Woodland's families.

Parental volunteer work ranges from teacher assistance to cleaning the classrooms. “We don’t hire a janitor or teaching assistants – we put the parents to work,” explained Jen “Teacher Jen” Ikerd, the Co-Op’s teacher since 2004. “In addition to reducing costs, the volunteer work builds community as parents work with the staff of Woodland Primary School and meet other parents only to discover they have other kids in Woodland’s schools and form relationships that will last for their students’ entire academic careers.”

The Woodland Cooperative Preschool has made significant strides over the years to secure its place as a fixture in the Woodland community. “Thanks to donations, grants, hard work, and a gracious partnership with Woodland Public Schools, the Co-Op was able to purchase, place, and pay off our building,” said Brentin. “Our dream of a permanent Co-Op became a reality more than 20 years ago, and now we’re expanding – it’s an incredibly exciting time!”

Preschool benefits all students from all walks of life.

All students benefit dramatically from attending preschool regardless of their family’s socioeconomic status or demographic background. “Some individuals may believe only children from low-income families benefit from preschool, however this concept is patently false,” said Ingrid Colvard, Principal of Woodland Primary School. “A report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) clearly demonstrates that all students, regardless of background or socioeconomic status, see important social and cognitive improvements from preschool education across all levels.”

Studies show that attending preschool dramatically improves student learning for all students throughout their K-12 academic careers.
Studies show that attending preschool dramatically improves student learning for all students throughout their K-12 academic careers. 

Unfortunately, many children aren’t prepared for a K-12 education without attending preschool. “Parents make a tremendous impact on a child’s sense of self-awareness and social capability,” explained Colvard. “However, the NIEER report determined that a large percentage of kindergartners lack important school readiness skills like following directions or working independently – skills taught in effective preschool programs.”

The benefits of preschool aren’t temporary, either; preschool ensures improved student learning through a student’s entire academic career. “Studies show that students who attended preschool not only increase their test scores in every grade, but they also experience significant social and emotional benefits,” said Colvard. “These benefits cannot be ignored – preschool really is vital to every student’s academic success.”

Woodland’s kindergartners need to attend preschool.

Washington State conducts research on students entering the K-12 education system through the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) to assess students’ strengths and needs to enable all students to be successful in school. The district administration team sees disturbing trends in recent study results from the 2016-17 school year.

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment indicates that upon entering kindergarten, Woodland’s newest students lack the following skills:

  • Socio-Emotional Skills: 68.9% do not have the socio-emotional skills such as regulating behavior, establishing positive relationships, and participating cooperatively in group situations.

  • Language Skills: 57.9% do not have the necessary language skills such as listening and understanding; using language to express thoughts and needs; and using appropriate communication skills.

  • Literacy Skills: 6% do not have the necessary literacy skills such as noticing rhyme or small units of sound; knowing the alphabet; demonstrating knowledge of print and its uses; comprehending and responding to books; and demonstrating emergent writing skills such as writing their own names.

  • Physical Skills: 7% do not have the necessary physical skills such as traveling, balancing, and fine-motor strength with coordination.

  • Cognitive Skills: 6% do not have the necessary cognitive skills such as demonstrating positive approaches to learning; remembering and connecting experiences; using classification skills; and thinking symbolically by using symbols and images to represent something not present.

  • Math Skills: 4% do not have the necessary math skills such as using number concepts and operations like counting or connecting numbers with their quantities; and understanding shapes and their relationships to one another.

“The majority of our entering kindergartners aren’t prepared in one or more of the six areas studied by WaKIDS,” explains Colvard. “These disturbing results can be reversed by ensuring our students have access to and attend a preschool program aligned with what entering students need to know in kindergarten.”

Preschool teaches socio-emotional, language, literacy, physical, and cognitive skills needed for a student's success throughout school.
Preschool teaches socio-emotional, language, literacy, physical, and cognitive skills needed for a student's success throughout school. 

The Woodland Preschool Cooperative started in 1971 as a partnership between Woodland Public Schools, the Fort Vancouver Library, and the Woodland Fire and Police Departments. Recently, Woodland Public Schools teamed up with the cooperative to offer a dedicated learning space at Woodland Primary School. “The cooperative prepares children for kindergarten by teaching early education skills and learning techniques,” said Brentin. “Both of my daughters attended the coop before entering kindergarten which inspired me to join the organization’s board of directors.”

In order to increase preschool offerings in the Woodland community, district leadership continues to seek partnerships with community members and local preschool programs including the Woodland Cooperative Preschool. “We are looking for ways to partner with existing local programs to increase access to preschool so all Woodland students can attend a preschool before they begin kindergarten,” said Riley. “By collaborating with our local preschools, we can ensure our preschoolers are ‘kindergarten-ready’ by aligning the skills learned in preschool with those students need in full-time K-12 schooling.”

Community members and preschool programs interested in partnering with Woodland Public Schools can contact Ingrid Colvard, Principal of the Woodland Primary School, at (360) 841-2900 or via email at colvardi@woodlandschools.org.

For more information on preschool programs in Woodland:

  • Woodland Co-Op Preschool: Contact Jennifer “Teacher Jen” Ikerd at (360) 225-1113 or via the Woodland Primary School at (360) 841-2900.

  • Woodland Head Start Preschool: Contact ESD 112 at (360) 750-7500 or visit their website at http://web3.esd112.org/early-head-start-enrollment-info

  • Woodland ECEAP Preschool: Contact ESD 112 at (360) 952-3466 or (360) 750-7500, email Jackie Brock at brock@esd112.org, or contact Woodland Primary School at (360) 841-2900.

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