May 28, 2013
While some hid behind mom’s skirt, others bound fearlessly to demonstrate their skills during the first ever centralized kindergarten registration and screening days held in May at Monticello High School. While parents and guardians did paperwork, both the shy and the outgoing got a taste of the fun that awaits them as future Monticello kindergarteners. In the process, over 74 percent of the class of 2026 is now registered to begin school this fall.
The centralized registration allowed the district to ensure that all parts of the process were streamlined – and that all data was collected accurately and securely. It also gave parents the opportunity to take care of all registration requirements in one day and included baseline screenings for incoming students and the opportunity to speak with on-site nursing staff, teachers and administrators.
The change in the registration process is just one of numerous actions taken by the newly created Pre-K Council, a group of educators, administrators and community members formed to help coordinate the local Pre-K programs that feed into the Monticello Central School District. While a majority of kindergarteners come from Monticello’s Project Excel Universal Pre-K program, nearly 60 percent of incoming students are from surrounding Pre-K programs such as Head Start, Best Friends Pre-School, Nana’s House, Land of the Little People and others.
“The changes brought on by the Common Core Learning Standards makes it even more important for the children coming into kindergarten to be ready for kindergarten,” explains Monticello District Administrator Ted Kusulas. “It was the goal of the Pre-K Council to get all of our local Pre-K providers on the same page academically.”
One gap identified by the Pre-K Council was in foundational skills – the ability to engage in meaningful conversation and be active listeners. “It is so basic, yet so necessary – and next year it will be a part of the greater curriculum,” explains Kusulas. To assist parents and get eager minds ready to think and talk like kindergarteners, parents were given a colorful ring of conversation starters called “Let’s Talk!”
These bi-lingual tabs (English and Spanish) contain questions and conversations starters that parents can use to engage their children to get them talking and exchanging ideas. “The kids have a great time with the conversation starters – and the best part is that they draw in older siblings too, which allows for family conversation as well,” explained Kusulas.
Now that registration is over, the district expects the next 20 percent or so of the class of 2026 to register by walk-in throughout the summer. All students who registered during the May session can expect to be visited at home with one more gift to get them off on the right foot – a packet of Scholastic books for each registrant. Purchased using Title I funds, “My Summer Books” will help kindergarteners in another main area of academic focus – reading readiness.
“We hope that our efforts this year will help not only our future students be more successful, but their parents as well,” explains Kusulas. “Parental involvement at this stage is crucial and we want to do everything we can and provide every opportunity to involve parents.”
PHOTOS, TOP to BOTTOM:
- Incoming kindergarteners show off their name tags and can't wait to make new friends and learn to read.
- Physical Education Teacher Gena Frey (Cooke Elementary School) poses with a future kindergartener after completing the motor coordination part of the screening.
- District Administrator Ted Kusulas shows off the "My Summer Books" packet to KLR Speech Therapist Dana Taylor (L) and EPIC Center Coordinator Robin LaFountain (R). All incoming Monticello kindergarten students will receive the books this summer to get a jump on reading readiness.