New at Marion Cross this year: Pre-K

The Pre-K classroom is gleaming and ready.

The average age of students at the Marion Cross School will be tugged a bit lower this year, due to the addition of at least 11 three- and four-year-olds enrolled in a Pre-K program being offered at the school for the first time this fall.

It's a part-time program: 10 hours a week, running Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 to 11.

"These aren't big academic programs," said Principal Bill Hammond. The focus is on skills like working well in groups. ("Some adults could use that still," he added.)

The teacher will be Betsy Tahtinen, a former substitute who interned at Marion Cross last year. "One of the expertises we like is her use of nature," Hammond said.

Wood blocks? I'm in.

The state of Vermont has mandated up to 10 hours of week of Pre-K programming for any child who wants it for the past several years now. The cost is covered by local taxes that are sent to the state and then distributed back.

"Pre-K is so essential to young learning," Hammond said.

More than 30 Norwich children have attended Pre-K programs through state funding in the past couple years, at centers in Norwich and around the area that agreements with Marion Cross. Many of those programs have wait lists, Hammond said.

"We're finding that people aren't finding local Pre-K programming sufficiently," he said. The Marion Cross program may also better serve parents who already have older kids attending the school. 

As of Wednesday, when I spoke with Hammond, there were three spots left in the first class. If you're interested, call the main office at 649-1703. There is no cost to the parents.


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