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					                                                                                     Aimee Janusz
                                                                         EDIT 6360: I-Search Final
                                    Why This Topic Chose Me
       I was a bit surprised when I found out that the I-Search was a research project that needed
to have personal meaning. The research papers I’ve done in the past always had to be about
specified topics, and they involved piecing together scholarly findings and synthesizing not my
own ideas. The practicality of the I-Search really motivated me as I always seem to have
personal topics that I need to research on my to-do list. I had two topics in particular that I was
interested in researching for this project, so I decided to create a personal universe web to see
which of the two would be better to do. To my surprise, instead of figuring out which of the two
to choose from, I ended up with more topics than I did to begin with! It was a good experience
though, to see all the possibilities. I will add them to my to-do list for the future.
       For the purposes of the I-Search, the personal universe web allowed me to visually see all
that I had on the table, compare them with one another, and decide on which topic to focus on.
My topic will be: “Which Pre-K program should my daughter attend?” I chose this topic over
the others because I need to research my options and preferences soon, as registration for the
next school year is during the next couple of months. In addition, my daughter’s education is
really important to me and my husband, and I feel that these early years make a big impact on
her future. I want to make sure that our decision is given much research and thought.
       I then proceeded with making the topic web. I really like the webbing process because it
encourages you to brainstorm so freely, and ideas come so quickly. It’s great to be able to
visually view the connections through the web. Here are some reflections on my topic web that
should help guide me through my I-Search:
      The points my web will serve as my criteria in evaluating Pre-K programs. These are, at
       the highest level: type of program, cost & fees, location, hours of program, curriculum
       taught, extra-curricular activities, food, facility, assessment of program, people, and
       registration.
      I can see already that my findings would look great in a table/chart format with the
       different programs going across and the criteria going down. That would allow me to
       organize the information and compare each program head-to-head on each factor.
      I also see that some of my criteria are more limiting than others. For example, Cost &
       Fees and Location may be “deal breakers,” whereas I would be more flexible on
       extracurricular activities and food options.



                                                                                         Page 1 of 7
                                                                                      Aimee Janusz
                                                                          EDIT 6360: I-Search Final
                                      The Story of My Search
        The Pre-Notetaking Sheet was a valuable exercise to outline thoughts of what I know,
what I don’t know, and what I want to know. I found that I referred to my topic web pretty
heavily, to help stimulate and organize my thoughts. Identifying what I knew led to the
questions on what I don’t know. The “what I want to know” column stemmed from “what I
don’t know”, but I worked them into higher-order questions that will require my own analysis on
the information I find.
        From my first draft of the Pre-Notetaking Sheet, I realized that I needed to narrow down
to narrow down my Pre-K Program options to those that will meet the minimal needs I defined in
the “what I know” column:
       Cost: Less is better of course, but I will need to see if there are benefits of Church &
        Montessori programs over GA Pre-K.
       Location: Needs to be within 5 miles from home and on my husband’s commute to work.
       Hours: Need at least 5 hours/day, 5 days/week of school.


        I proceeded with doing some reading without notetaking to answer some of the questions
on my pre-notetaking sheet and to narrow down my choices. From this reading, I decided that a
church pre-school program will not work for us because they offer such limited hours, about 3-
3.5 hours/day. I will need to be away from my daughter for a longer period of time to complete
internships and field experiences, so this time would be insufficient. I have also decided that
Montessori programs are out of our budget, and its value does not outweigh the monetary costs.
        This leaves us with the Georgia Pre-K program. This program is free (can’t beat that!)
and meets for 6.5 hours, Monday through Friday. I was able to create a list of all of the Georgia
Pre-K programs offered in my area. There are many, but I think I can narrow it down to a few
locations that are nearby and on my husband’s commute to work. I also found websites where I
can access Georgia Report Cards and Georgia Licensing Reports for these programs. I will use
that to narrow down the list as well. Once I narrow it down to 3-4 programs, I think the best way
to proceed is to visit the facilities and gather all of the information on the criteria I will use to
rank our options.
        The criteria that I used to evaluate the Pre-K programs evolved throughout my search
process. I initially came up with criteria from my topic web, factors that I thought would be
important in finding a Pre-K program that would fit our needs. My daughter currently goes to a

                                                                                             Page 2 of 7
                                                                                  Aimee Janusz
                                                                    EDIT 6360: I-Search Final
church pre-school (for her second year now), so I had an idea of what I was looking for based on
our current experience. As I did my double-entry drafts I looked through many licensing reports
and report cards for Pre-K programs in my area. The licensing reports evaluated daycare
licensing aspects, and the report cards evaluated curriculum aspects of the programs. From this,
I gained more specific ideas of what to look for, and fine-tuned the criteria accordingly. I also
used these reports to narrow down my choices to the 3 programs that I was going to visit. As I
toured each of the facilities, I noted the information I needed to gather for the criteria by asking
the staff questions, noting my own thoughts on my observations, and looking through their
website/handbook materials.
       Here is the essential question of my search, answered in chart format in the following
section. Which Georgia Pre-K program/facility should my daughter attend, comparing the
following criteria:
      Location
      Hours of Program
      Cost & Fees
      Food Options
      Assessment (Public Reports, Reviews)
      Curriculum Taught
      Extra-Curricular Activities
      Facility (Age, Space, Classroom Arrangement, Equipment, Cleanliness, Security)
      People (Staff, Teacher-Student Ratio, # Total Students, Demographic of Students)




                                                                                          Page 3 of 7
                                                                                                                             Aimee Janusz
                                                                                                                 EDIT 6360: I-Search Final
                                                               What I Found
The following chart summarizes the information I gathered in my Double-Entry Drafts. I highlighted factors that impressed me in green text
and factors that concern me in red text.
                                    D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early         NCR Bright Beginnings               Kindercare #1544
                                    Education Center
Location                            5150 Sugarloaf Parkway              2651 Satellite Blvd Duluth (5       1720 Marathon Blvd.
                                    Lawrenceville (4 minutes; 2.04      minutes, 2.84 miles from my         Lawrenceville (6 minutes, 2.83
                                    miles from my home)                 home)                               miles from my home)

Hours of Program                    8-2:30, 8:15-2:45, 8:30-3:00        8:00-2:30                           8:30-3:00, 8:45-3:15, or 9:00-
                                    (will be assigned)                                                      3:30 (will be assigned)

Cost & Fees                                                    $20 weekly meal fee; tuition is completely state-funded
Food Options                                          Mandatory weekly meal fee covers breakfast or morning snack and lunch.
Assessment (Public Reports,         There are no licensing reports or                        Licensing reports are acceptable
Reviews)                            report cards since this is a new                      Exceeded all measures in report card.
                                    facility that just opened Summer
                                    of 2006.
Curriculum Taught                                                     All meet GA’s curriculum requirements
                                    Play-based learning,                 “Creative Curriculum” for            “Early Foundations” pre-
                                    supplemented by small and large preschool with portfolio                  kindergarten learning program
                                    group activities                     assessment                           with portfolio assessment

Extra-Curricular Activities         Before and after school care        Before and after school care        Before and after school care
                                    available for $85/week.             available for $348/month.           available for $80/week. They
                                                                                                            offer “Kelsey’s Learning
                                                                                                            Adventures,” an enrichment
                                                                                                            program in Phonics, Reading,
                                                                                                            Math, and Spanish.
Facility: Age                       Opened in Summer 2006; less         Opened in 2001; 6 years old         Opened in 1998; 9 years old
                                    than 1 year old



                                                                                                                                  Page 4 of 7
                                                                                                               Aimee Janusz
                                                                                                   EDIT 6360: I-Search Final


                        D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early         NCR Bright Beginnings             Kindercare #1544
                        Education Center
Facility: Space         The floor plan of the center is     The building has a very open      The classrooms seemed to be of
                        very well thought out. Each         floor plan, with an indoor play   sufficient size; however, it did
                        classroom is connected to           area where children can play if   feel a bit crowded overall.
                        another classroom through a         there is bad weather outdoors.
                        “messy” room (where children        There was plenty of equipment
                        can play with sensory materials     in the outdoor playground as
                        like sand and water). Then, all     well.
                        of the classrooms for the
                        particular age group are
                        connected to a “piazza” where
                        even larger group activities can
                        take place.
Facility: Classroom     Classrooms are very spacious        The classroom was organized       The indoor classrooms have
Arrangement             and are divided into learning       and divided into many learning    well-organized centers set up for
                        centers, and children are set-up    centers. With the “Creative       the children to participate in a
                        encourages independent              Curriculum” students are given    variety of tasks. There are many
                        exploration, with teacher support   time to independently explore     posters, a word wall, book
                        as needed. This is supplemented     centers they are interested in.   library, toys, and craft/art
                        by small and large group            They also post the weekly         materials in the classrooms.
                        activities.                         schedule with lessons being
                                                            taught during circle time,
                                                            highlighting the GA Pre-K
                                                            curricular objectives covered.

Facility: Equipment &   The equipment and materials are     The facility and equipment        The older age does show in the
Cleanliness             the latest and greatest, and the    looked to be clean and well-      equipment and cleanliness of the
                        outdoor playground contains         maintained.                       facility. The condition of the
                        wooden play sets and winding                                          lobby bathroom and outdoor
                        paths for riding tricycles.                                           playground equipment left a bad
                                                                                              first impression. Licensing
                                                                                              reports noted that wear issues
                                                                                              could cause safety concerns.
                                                                                                                    Page 5 of 7
                                                                                                                         Aimee Janusz
                                                                                                             EDIT 6360: I-Search Final
                                D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early          NCR Bright Beginnings              Kindercare #1544
                                Education Center
Facility: Security              Children are safely secured          Children are safely secured        Children are safely secured
                                within the classroom areas by a      within the classroom areas by a    within the classroom areas by a
                                door that is monitored from the      door that is monitored from the    door that is monitored from the
                                lobby. The outdoor playground        lobby. The outdoor playground      lobby. The outdoor playground
                                is secured by a fence.               is secured by a fence. In          is secured by a fence.
                                                                     addition, the front door to the
                                                                     building was locked and they use
                                                                     the intercom to let people in.

People: Staff                   Part of the reason for building      The 2 Pre-K teachers have been     Most of the teachers have been
                                this facility (located on Gwinnett   teaching together for 3 years      teaching Pre-K here for quite
                                Tech’s campus) was to allow          now, and the program               some time. They seem to be
                                Gwinnett Tech Early Childhood        coordinator was a former Pre-K     familiar with how to optimally
                                Care and Education program           teacher as well. Staff was         run the Georgia Pre-K program
                                student teachers to do their         extremely inviting and friendly.   and its curriculum.
                                observations and field
                                experiences. I like this
                                environment as I feel that it
                                would provide an opportunity for
                                some innovative teaching
                                methods and activities.

People: # of Total Students &   Their Pre-K program consists of Their Pre-K program consists of They have 120 Pre-K students,
Teacher-Student Ratio           60 children, split up into 3         20 children in 1 classroom, with split up into 6 classes, each with
                                classrooms, each with 1 lead         1 lead teacher and 1 assistant    1 lead teacher and 1 assistant
                                teacher and 1 assistant teacher      teacher (2:20 teacher-student     teacher (2:20 teacher-student
                                (2:20 teacher-student ratio).        ratio).                           ratio).
People: Demographic of                               Students and teachers were of diverse backgrounds and ethnicity.
Students
Total Impression Count          4 Positive                           3 Positive                         1 Positive, 3 Negative



                                                                                                                                 Page 6 of 7
                                                                         Aimee Janusz
                                                             EDIT 6360: I-Search Final
                  How I am Applying My Findings to Answer My Questions
       From analyzing the chart and the “impression count,” my preference order would be:
   1. D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center
   2. NCR Bright Beginnings
   3. Kindercare #1544

However, where we end up is not all up to us. It also depends on how many spots are open to the
public (as they open the spots to their current day care students first). I have registered to all
three programs. Fortunately, I was able to secure a spot in both D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early
Education Center and Kindercare #1544. I am on the wait list for NCR Bright Beginnings.
Therefore, we will most likely be attending D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center. I feel
very confident in this decision, given the research and thought put into it. We’re looking forward
to watching our daughter develop at her new Pre-K program!


                                            Bibliography

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Bright from the Start Website, retrieved from:
http://www.decal.state.ga.us/default.aspx

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Bright from the Start Website’s Provider
Locator and Licensing Reports, retrieved from:
http://www.sitesearch.decal.state.ga.us/georgiadecal/public/ProviderSearch.aspx

The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Bright from the Start Report Cards, retrieved
from: http://www.gaosa.org/

D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center Website, retrieved from:
http://www.gwinnetttech.edu/content.cfm?PageCode=heec

NCR Bright Beginnings Website, retrieved from: http://centers.brighthorizons.com/ncr/

Kindercare Website, retrieved from:
http://www.kindercare.com/




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