It’s Here! The First Pre-K in Kirbyville
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español
A grand opening celebration feted a new, licensed and accredited preschool in Kirbyville – the first in the city and the fourth in Jasper county. Kirbyville UMC presented the preschool as one of seven of the new United Methodist Children’s Centers.
“We want our preschoolers to begin elementary school kindergarten-ready,” All God’s Children preschool director LaQuisha Andrews said.
The new 2,000 sq. ft. facility in Kirbyville is an important part of that effort, she explained. The preschool opened its doors to children October 25th and will continue to run from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week.
The school follows the ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum, a comprehensive program that covers science, reading readiness, introductory math, gross and fine motor skills, self-care and manners, visual perception, music, art, the Bible and even some sign language for infants.
“We want to get them started as young as we can,” Andrews said. “It all comes together to get them ready for school.”
Play becomes the main vehicle for gaining knowledge, so much so that children often do not even realize they are learning, Andrews said. Already, the school has 27 students enrolled with more slots open. There are five teachers on staff with one full-time aide.
While the preschool is licensed to accommodate 61 students, Andrews said enrollment will be capped around 50 children to maintain a smaller classroom size. “We want to keep a low ratio of children to teachers so the kids are getting more one on one attention and teachers can focus on their needs,” she added.
Already, residents of Kirbyville have shown their excitement about the new school, Andrews said. “We had a good turnout for our ribbon cutting,” she added. “They got to see all of our classrooms, our teachers in action and our brand new playground.”
Planning for the preschool started about two years ago, Andrews said. Construction began last January and by July classrooms were ready to be equipped and decorated.
“It was worth all of the hard work by opening day, to see all of the parents coming in and all of the students so excited to be in school,” Andrews said.
Parents enrolling their children told her that they were eager for the preschool to open. “We needed this for so long,” they said.
“It’s a great need for this community, that’s the main thing we hear,” Andrews said.
According to the Bush Literacy Foundation in Houston, children who complete preschool begin kindergarten years ahead of under resourced children, giving them an advantage in school for years to come.
In her keynote address to the Texas Annual Conference, Julie Baker-Finck, president of the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation, explained that Texas is consistently ranked as one of nation’s worst states for children.
She said one in four children live in poverty, and 60 percent of students receive free or reduced fee lunches. Still, the devastating impact of childhood poverty can be minimized or negated entirely if those children receive the support they need.
“There is no smarter investment in our resources than helping children learn to read,” Baker-Finck said.
Churches can respond to this urgent need, Bishop Scott Jones said, by providing preschools – and helping ensure kindergarten readiness. This gives them a leg-up on their educations and future. “All God’s Children Preschool will be a positive transformation for families in Kirbyville, Texas, making childcare more accessible for working parents in Jasper County,” he added.
Jones said that health will be another top priority in the school, which will make vision and hearing screenings available for students.
Kirbyville Mayor Frank George said that the school will allow a number of working mothers an option for licensed preschool that had not been available before.
“It’s great for them, and it’s also going to help the school, because it will prepare children for kindergarten,” he said. “Just the fact that we’ll have this preschool in our community means a great deal.”
He thanked the Methodist Church for making it happen. “It’s quite a job for them to do this, and I look forward to seeing it grow,” he said. “We’re really appreciative for what they’ve done for our community. It’s certainly an asset for our city, no question about it.”
Tuition is $150 monthly for children ages 2 to 17 months and $125 for children ages 18 months to 5 years. Financial assistance is available through Child Care Services. To register, contact the school at 409-420-5014.