Supporting Habits of Heart and Mind in New Terrain
Since “retiring”, Opal School Founder Judy Graves has been busy continuing her efforts to inspire greater educational opportunity for all children. Here’s her report on her latest breakthroughs, exploring the implications of Opal School’s research with new communities:
Teaching Preschools Offer Opportunities at Two Sites
Two teaching preschools opened this fall to provide opportunities for some of our areas most vulnerable children and families. Teaching Preschools bring the playful inquiry approaches to learning and teaching from Opal School of the Portland Children’s Museum to the Gladstone Center for Children and Families and Prescott Elementary in the Parkrose Public School District. Teaching Preschool Partners, a non-profit organization that co-operates the preschools, offers them as demonstration sites providing resources to early childhood professionals, parents, providers, and policymakers who seek fresh ideas about the environments and experiences we provide for our youngest learners. Teachers from both sites are participating this year in the Opal School Mentorship Program.
Gladstone Teaching Preschool—2nd Year Opening
Gladstone Teaching Preschool’s second year began with a gathering of families and teachers, meeting one another, sharing family stories and making wishes for their children. The wish cards were joyfully received by the young ones. Now they hang from a classroom mobile to greet the children each day. This teaching preschool serves 20 children who are sourced from the Head Start waitlist and children who qualify for special education services. This program is a collaboration between the Gladstone Center for Children and Families, Clackamas County ESD, Teaching Preschool Partners and Portland Children’s Museum.
Prescott Teaching Preschool Opens
“Oh, this is awesome,” said three-year-old Amir on his first visit to his new preschool classroom. Soon he joins classmates and family members in a circle on the carpet where they greet one another, sing songs and make choices about the materials and environments they will explore on this first day of school.
Amir is one of ten children to open Prescott Teaching Preschool (PTP) of the Parkrose School District in October. This gentle start with a small group gives children and parents a chance to meet one another and help shape this new community of learners. In November, ten additional children will join the community. Their peers will welcome and introduce them to materials and environments that are designed to engage inquisitive minds and spark playful curiosity. Enrollment priority is given to children who qualify for English language services and the free lunch program in the catchment area of Prescott Elementary School. Prescott Teaching Preschool is a collaboration between the Parkrose School District, Teaching Preschool Partners, Portland Children’s Museum and Multnomah County EL/ECSE.