One by one the preschoolers washed their hands after having their milk and snacks and sat on a rug, waiting for teacher Jill Dunlop 001 ? 0008.00 00001to introduce the letter of the day.
Using a Hippopotamus hand puppet, Dunlop sounded out the letter “h” and asked the five children, ages 3 to 5, to each identify words such as house, horse and hammer from various pictures on her easel. The abilities of the children ranged from 4-year-old Emma, who can write her name, to 3-year-old Kimberly, a native Spanish speaker who is so painfully shy she doesn’t speak a word during the 2 1/2 hour class.
At Butler’s Aaron Decker School, these preschoolers are learning to become students three days a week this year, down from five days last year. Local voters rejected the school budget last year, forcing cuts, including the preschool program. Federal stimulus funding was used to restore the limited program, so it’s unclear if the program will survive next year.
“We’re trying to hold on as much as we can. Three days is better than no days,” said Virginia Scala, Decker’s principal.