SPRINGFIELD TWP. The students of Springfield’s class of 2032 attended their first graduation in late May at the shelter on Springfield Lake.
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood for the 73 members of the pre-school classes to line up and file across the shelter one-by-one and perform their educational songs about numbers, colors and letters. A record 43 students graduated. Superintendent Chuck Sincere said it was the largest number the district has ever had graduate from the preschool, which is housed in Spring Hill Elementary School.
Parents brought their lawn chairs or pulled up a picnic bench to watch their child take those first steps toward their elementary education and the start of kindergarten. The excitement of parents and families was obvious but when it came to the kids singing “Baby Shark,” the excitement grew as everyone joined in.
Chani Huntsman said it is an integrated preschool with an even split of typically developing peers and special needs students. There are morning and afternoon sessions, totaling six classes. A teacher and one or two assistants are always in the classrooms. Huntsman is a lead teacher and has been in the district for 15 years, teaching the preschoolers for eight years.
There is a screening programs in the spring and two in the fall and it is does, at times, get full. A waiting list is available for typical peers if classes are full.
It is a five-star rated program which, is a big deal when it comes to preschools. Huntsman said the State of Ohio has an evaluation system called Step Up to Quality. Documents must be turned in and an onsite visit takes place during the year.
“You can get one to five stars. We have held that five-star rating for the last three years,” Huntsman said. “We are always looking for people to come and sign up. Our program has grown quite rapidly in the last three years,” she said. “We encourage for people to look to us.”
Unlike a private preschool, the Springfield preschool has to follow all the state guidelines and state testing.
“We are required and mandated by the state to do certain things. There is a lot more attention paid to the education,” Huntsman said.
To sign up go into Spring Hill’s office and pick up a packet. Those applying will be contacted after the beginning of school, which is Aug. 19. There is also a link on www.springfieldspartans.org to download the packet. All students go through a screening before joining the classroom to get an idea of what level the child is on. Tuition is free for Individualized Educational Program (IEP) children and bussing is available. For typical children, tuition is $250 a quarter and there is a $40 snack fee. Speech, occupational and physical therapy and special educational services are available.
The interesting thing about the school is students don’t have to start at the beginning of the school year. The child needs to be three years old. If your child turns three in February or any month they can start. Enrollment is all year during the school year and is ongoing.
Huntsman said one to two times a month they hold special family events such as Donuts for Dudes or Lunch with Ladies. Sometimes they go on a field trip to the zoo, Chuck E Cheese or other places. It gives the parents an opportunity to bring their children and get to know the teachers and other parents. It gives the kids a chance to play together.
“It has been a really successful program that we implemented,” said Huntsman.
The preschool is always looking for volunteers, donations and toys that children have outgrown.