• NEWS-JOURNAL PHOTO/CORY SPIERS – Greenlee kindergarten teacher Jason Hall works with a group of rising kindergartners this past week at the second Kindergarten Academy. The academy gives students a chance to get acclimated to the school routine without older students being present.
    NEWS-JOURNAL PHOTO/CORY SPIERS – Greenlee kindergarten teacher Jason Hall works with a group of rising kindergartners this past week at the second Kindergarten Academy. The academy gives students a chance to get acclimated to the school routine without older students being present.

KINDERGARTEN ACADEMY: Some students start school early at Greenlee Primary

SPRUCE PINE – School started early this year for some Greenlee Primary students who went to the second Kindergarten Academy, an orientation for incoming kindergartners.

The Academy is a partnership between the Rural Education Partners of Mitchell County, Mitchell County Schools, Mitchell Transportation, Blue Ridge Partnership for Children, Ingles, Head Start, private pre-kindergarten programs, Mitchell County Extension Service, Mayland Community College Human Services Department and the Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation.

The weeklong academy met at Greenlee from 9-11:30 a.m. daily this past week and gave students a firsthand taste of the school routine before the first day this coming week.

“Kindergarten Academy has proven to be important to our students because it’s a time for them to transition into school without the entire population being here,” said Julie Weatherman, principal at Greenlee. “It stops the tears. It gives the parents time to find the comfortable separation. They get to come in and practice routines.”

Parents met with Weatherman on the first day of the academy and asked questions.

“Students and parents both have anxiety,” Weatherman said. “We talk about the routines for the parents as well.”

At the beginning of the first two days, participants performed group nursery rhymes before splitting into groups led by their assigned teachers.

Once with their teachers, students participated in a class activity, had bathroom and lunch times and ended the day with physical education in the gym.

“It’s a good precursor to how we start school,” Weatherman said. “It’s intense for them. The little ones get tired. A half of a day seems to be their fill.”

Seventy-one rising kindergartners participated in the academy. There are 81 kindergarteners enrolled at Greenlee for the coming school year.

Weatherman said the word about the academy got around more this year. She added advertising for the academy started weeks earlier than this past year.

In its first year, 37 of the school’s 64 enrolled kindergartners participated in the camp.

Rural Education Partners of Mitchell County Director Lori Gilcrist said the Academy is a more focused version of summer orientation programs offered in the past.

“We’ve always had summer stuff here,” Gilcrist said. “We’ve always made kindergartners welcome, but it was not specifically geared to them. This is much better for meeting their specific needs.”

Weatherman said the partnership with the community makes the academy possible.

Mitchell Transportation and Rural Education Partners provided transportation and Ingles provided food.

“It helps people get involved,” Weatherman said. “It’s a time when we can collaborate to do what is best for the kids. The partnerships are extremely important. It takes the entire community to make it all work.”

The MItchell News

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