Pre-k - Newtown Gazette by ajizai

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									Newtown Gazette 10/7/11

Innovative pre-K at Newtown Friends School
celebrates 15th anniversary
October 4, 2011 By katie

One of the most innovative pre-K schools in Pennsylvania launched its 15th year on September
6th, at Newtown Friends School (NFS) on the edge of the George School campus. And there are
still a few openings available for this year’s class in this popular program, according to Ragini
Dave, pre-K teacher.

“Admission to the pre-K program does not ensure acceptance to kindergarten at Newtown
Friends School, but preference will be given to pre-K students,” says Becky Niszczak, NFS
admission director.

Ragini Dave and Nancy Townsend, kindergarten associate teachers at NFS at the time, founded
the pre-K program at NFS in 1996. They still teach pre-K and love their work. Ragini Dave
describes their philosophy of pre-K teaching as “exploration.”

“We make sure our children get a wide experience of the world so that each child’s imagination
is caught by something – an air balloon, Dutch wooden shoes, a puzzle, a fairy tale, a polar bear,
or a dinosaur. We explore things – things in the school, things in videos, books and games,
things about each other and different cultures, and things in Bucks County on field trips. We
have a wonderful time.”

Pre-kindergarten at NFS is a full-day program designed for four- and five-year-olds.

Applying innovative, proven curricula such as The Reading and Writing Project at Teachers
College at Columbia University, the program builds creative interest and a solid foundation for a
child’s later success in math, reading, writing, science and technology.

In the high-tech, resource-rich Quaker elementary school, pre-kindergarten students also are
introduced to Spanish, music, computers, physical education and the library.

Years after they moved on from pre-K, students still remember learning about topics as disparate
as Divali, evaporation, Chinese New Year, and the class hamster/escape artist who made a nest
with corn from the “C is for corn” project. They also remember which African animal they were
in the spring skit, “Two Ways to Count to 10,” the highlight of the pre-K calendar for 15 years.

Pre-Ks are also active in the wider NFS school community. Fourth-grade students read to pre-K
twice a week, and pre-K students tour the school for special occasions based on the NFS theme
of the week, such as “apples,” when pre-K goes apple picking and then brings apples to each
class.
They also benefit from the Intergenerational Program with “tutors” from the talented retired
professionals and educators at Pennswood Village on the adjoining campus.

Dana Harrison, Head of School at NFS, says, “What our students learn is just as important as
how they learn. While learning through guided play and exploration, our pre-kindergarten
students become confident, respectful individuals who begin to see their place in the world,
without losing the sense of wonder that accompanies being a young child. Children are enabled
to grow intellectually and socially in our nurturing environment that adheres to Quaker values.”

								
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