Barge visits Allatoona Elementary for Pre-K Week
by Mark Andrews
Oct 10, 2012 | 2030 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students, and several guests, in Mindy Reeves’ pre-K class at Allatoona Elementary School enjoy hearing State School Superintendent John Barge read aloud as part of Pre-K Week. To the right of Barge sits 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year Lauren Eckman. MARK ANDREWS/The Daily Tribune News
Students, and several guests, in Mindy Reeves’ pre-K class at Allatoona Elementary School enjoy hearing State School Superintendent John Barge read aloud as part of Pre-K Week. To the right of Barge sits 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year Lauren Eckman. MARK ANDREWS/The Daily Tribune News
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On Tuesday, State School Superintendent John Barge made a visit to the pre-K classroom of Mindy Reeves at Allatoona Elementary School in celebration of Pre-K Week. This year is the 20th anniversary of the state’s lottery-funded pre-K program for 4-year-olds.

“We’re so excited to be the first teacher [students] are ever going to be exposed to and so we want everybody else to be excited about that,” Reeves said of Pre-K Week.

Barge said the state’s pre-K program is an important component in aiding a child’s academic and social growth.

“The research is pretty clear as far as students coming into pre-K and the various backgrounds they come from, students who come from poverty with a much smaller vocabulary set — about a third of the size of students coming to pre-K — ... and how quickly the brain functions and how students can adapt and catch up, so it’s very critical at this age to get students into school and get them up to speed and prepared for kindergarten and first grade,” he said after reading to students the book “The Snow Day” by Ezra Jack Keats.

Reeves teaches the only pre-K classroom in the school, and while Principal Jim Bishop said all teachers and faculty work together to meet the goals of AES, he gave praise to Reeves and classroom paraprofessional Paula Moore.

“Mrs. Reeves works harder than anyone in the building because she has to make sure her room is set up in the proper instructional environment and make sure she meets all the instructional requirements for pre-K,” Bishop said. “A lot of people have this misconception of pre-K as just kids coming in to play and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“She works with [students] on academic skills and social skills all day long and on top of that she has to do more assessing than any [K-12] teacher in Bartow County, and the fact that she’s able to do that and have such a great class, I’m very proud of her and pleased for her and this is a big honor for her to be chosen [by state pre-k consultant Gwen Kahn] for the quality of work that is coming out [of her class].”

Reeves, who has been teaching pre-K since 1999, said while most students come in with basic motor skills, they develop fine motor skills — like cutting paper and holding crayons and pencils correctly — in her class. She also said developing fine motor skills ties into social interaction and growth.

“Some [students] don’t have any siblings and so it’s great for them to interact in different [classroom learning] centers and to get along with each other,” Reeves said.

She expanded on what assessments pre-K teachers have to complete in terms of benchmarks, much like traditional K-12 classrooms.

“We have a work sampling system that we use and we take work samples on science, math and social studies, language and physical education and social,” Reeves said. “We’re always taking notes and work samples of what the kids do so we can see their progress from the beginning of school to the end of school, so we know what needs to be worked on and we can put them in small groups to help them prepare for kindergarten.”

Barge, along with about 140 other state officials, will visit some of the approximately 3,800 pre-K classrooms located in the 159 counties in Georgia during the week.

Cartersville Kids and Co. Pre-K is available to students in the city and with the closing of STARS Pre-K, the county offers 16 pre-K classes within the various schools.