Melissa Kraus, a graduate of MSAD 15, graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a degree in Early Childhood Special Education Birth-5 and Early Childhood Education Birth-5. She completed her student teaching under the guidance of Martha Gill in the MSAD 15 Pre-K Program. After graduation, Ms. Kraus joined the Pre-K Program as an Educational Technician in Mrs. Gill’s classroom from Fall 2013 to Spring 2015, when she then accepted a teaching position within the program. Ms. Kraus uses monthly themes that incorporate activities, songs, projects, letters, numbers, field trips, volunteer opportunities, etc. that follow along the Maine Early Learning and Development Standards to prepare students for kindergarten and beyond. Classroom time is a mix of teacher directed and student directed learning and play opportunities.
Victoria Cloutier Vicky Cloutier is in her eighth year of teaching, but her first year at Dunn School in Pre-K. Prior to teaching in MSAD #15, Vicky taught kindergarten for four years and first grade for three years. She graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She teaches based on monthly themes and incorporates learning experiences through hands-on learning. Each day includes centers, circle time, stories, projects, and interactions with letters, colors, shapes, and numbers based on the Maine Early Learning and Development Standards. Vicky is excited to be part of the Pre-K program at Dunn and to be working with MSAD #15’s youngest learners!
Martha Gill has taught in MSAD #15 for 7 years, five years in Pre-K and two years of Kindergarten at Memorial School before that. Prior to working in MSAD #15, she had been teaching as a first grade teacher at Paris Elementary School for four years. Martha graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2003 with a B.S. in Early Childhood/K-3 Education. She then attended the University of Maine at Orono, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in literacy. Martha lives in New Gloucester with her husband and three children. Teaching Pre-K is Mrs. Gill’s dream job – She is able to help prepare students academically for Kindergarten and the years to come using a monthly theme curriculum that involves learning numbers, letters, colors, school readiness behaviors and social skills. The curriculum also incorporates family fun nights & opportunities for parents to come into the classroom to show students the important connection between home and school that begins in Pre-K, but is crucial throughout their education at SAD #15. The excitement of Pre-K students about learning is as bright and colorful as the loft you will be greeted by when you walk into her classroom and her goal as a teacher is to show these young learners that their dreams and achievements can reach as high as that loft and even higher if they believe in themselves, always try their best and take advantage of all the opportunities they can at school and in our community.
Margaret Thibodeau, the guidance counselor at Memorial and Russell Elementary Schools, recently completed screenings of kindergarten students, including many who had participated in MSAD’s first year of Pre-K in 2011-12. Her perspective straddles those of teaching staff and parents.
“My role in the screening process is to meet with parents, and find out about any significant early development concerns, learn about the household, and what previous preschool or day care experiences the children have had,” Thibodeau explained. “I always start with the question: How was your child’s preschool or day care experience? This year, I was struck by how many parents whose children attended our preschool were SO enthusiastic about their child’s experience!”
Thibodeau shared some of that parental feedback here:
- We’ve seen a huge jumpstart in his readiness skills. He knows his letters and numbers now. He is also so comfortable at the school! I’m so glad he is familiar with the school, the principal, the teachers, and the bus. We do not anticipate any transition problems in the fall.
- The preschool program has been wonderful. The best. Our daughter has learned so much.
- Preschool has been awesome and amazing. Our child is very excited for kindergarten. He has no worries.
- Pre-K has been amazing. Our child is a completely different little boy now from when he started school.
“Initially, I was struck by how enthusiastic and happy parents were,” Thibodeau said. “Then, when I began scoring the developmental section of the screening, which the parents fill out, it appeared to me that parents were rating their child’s self help skills, as well as behavior and social skills, much higher, or much more capable compared to my memory of the rating scales from past years before the Pre-K program.
“I was interested in what the kindergarten teachers were noticing during the actual assessment of the children… The kindergarten teachers remarked that the children from our Pre-K programs were really READY for kindergarten. They separated easily from their parents to be screened, they were very comfortable because they were familiar with the schools and teachers, and their capabilities were strong and solid to start kindergarten.”
The argument for Pre-K education is buttressed by economic factors as well.
Children who tend to need remedial education and/or drop out of school, who experience emotional and mental health problems, who engage in criminal behavior during their teenage and adult years, tend not to have had high quality early education experiences. These negative outcomes naturally represent a significant cost to school districts.
While the institution of GNG’s Pre-K program accounts for a annual budgetary line item of some $163,967, we know from longitudinal research conducted over the last 50 years that children who experience high-quality early care and education are more likely to be both physically and emotionally healthy, have greater language and literacy skills, succeed academically and attend college, and have higher earnings as adults — because their brain architecture and learning experiences were based on a strong foundation provided by their interactions with caring and skilled adults.
The research of Nobel Laureate Economist James Heckman shows that the rate of return on investment is greatest with programs targeted children from birth to three years of age. The rates of return found in early-learning and family-support programs are significant. Reputable studies put the return rate of these programs in a range of 3 to 17 times the investment.
Last Update- January 17, 2021