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Excellence in education: Two local preschool classrooms recognized by KDE

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Only 22 in state complete approval process successfully

By Kelly Cantrall

For two local preschool classrooms, their “excellence” is a true, evaluated fact.

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Classes from New Highland and Heartland elementaries in the Hardin County Schools district were among 22 statewide to be honored as Classrooms of Excellence by the Kentucky Department of Education. The honor followed a lengthy review that ensured teachers were following best practices for preschool education.

The process includes an all-day observation in which a KDE representative evaluates the environment of the room and the interaction between students and the teaching staff, a qualitative self-study in which the lead teacher reflects on lessons and how they implement early childhood standards, followed by another meeting with a KDE representative.

New Highland’s preschool staff worked on the process for a year and Heartland’s preschool staff invested two years in the process.

Joan Hill, lead teacher in New Highland’s preschool class, took on the challenge — along with her assistant Sherri Neese and Head Start teacher Brenda King — as a way to improve their work.

“It’s a good chance to evaluate your teaching,” Hill said.

Maryjane Boes, lead preschool teacher at Heartland, and her assistants, Stephanie Swift and Debbie Wells, were the first in the district to attempt the process.

“We had to go through the whole learning curve,” Boes said.

The review involved a lot of people, including district-level staff and parents, with whom Hill quickly shared the good news.

“We wanted our parents to know,” she said. “That’s how much it was a team effort.”

Boes said she’s seen a lot of changes since completing the assessment. The staff is more aware of implementing state and national standards and using best practices in the classroom. Wells said they follow checklists for each student to know what each child can and can’t do.

Boes said three other preschool teachers are planning to start the process and she hopes others decide to tackle it as well. She’s confident that any HCS preschool classroom could be successful, she said.
Hill offers a similar assessment.

“There’s great things going on,” she said of HCS preschool classes. “We get ideas from each other.”

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.