“Countdown to Kindergarten” is a camp that Knox Community Elementary School offers to students at risk of falling behind or those with little to no pre-school experience. KCES is able to offer this program thanks to a grant from IU Health.
The grant became available in 2011 and the school has been offering the camp ever since then. This is the 5th year the program has been provided to community members. Additional support is provided through the Starke County Community Foundation who helps pick up the cost of transportation.
Currently the teachers instructing the students are Meda Sullivan and Kimberley Ray. They each have backgrounds in early childhood education and together Ray and Sullivan have 70 years of teaching experience. “Count Down to Kindergarten” runs for three weeks in June and students come in every morning from 8 until 11 am. During the day students receive breakfast and lunch and throughout the course of the camp they learn what will be expected of them when the fall semester starts up.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Peggy Shidaker says that “Countdown to Kindergarten” significantly influences the students who attend, “Every year when I go and talk to the kindergarten teachers, for some feed back, they will tell me that they can identify those students who have gone through the kindergarten camp. There’s already been a huge change in these students from the time they started June 8th to now in our third week.” she shared.
This year’s batch of 20 students will “graduate” from the camp this Thursday. Due to the success of the program Shidaker says she hopes the grant remains available in the future to allow this effective transitional camp to continue at Knox Community Elementary School.