TRENTON — The four-year-olds in the new pre-kindergarten class at Trenton Elementary School aren’t the only ones having a good time.
“One day last week I went in and they were doing a funny little dance, and I got to participate with them,” Principal Mike Zboray said Tuesday. “I have fun going in there; it’s a nice break in the day.”
But pre-K isn’t all fun and games.
Last spring when the program was being designed, Zboray said it has a prescribed curriculum. Learning goals include math and literacy, fine and gross motor skills, artistic creativity and getting along with others.
The idea is to better prepare the children for kindergarten.
“One of the biggest things teachers have shared with me over the last couple of years is the importance of early social-emotional skills development,” Zboray said.
The Trenton pre-K class reached its enrollment capacity this week with the addition of the sixteenth student. There are 10 girls and six boys.
Half of the cost of pre-K education at Trenton Elementary is being covered by the federal Head Start program, which is administered locally by Downeast Community Partners in Ellsworth. Half of the children in the class are from economically disadvantaged families, as determined by federal income guidelines.
The pre-K class began Oct. 1, about a month later than the rest of the school. “We were struggling to fill the teacher position,” Zboray said. “Just like with other teacher positions, it’s been really tough to find someone.”
Kelly Nutter, a veteran pre-K teacher with the Head Start program in Bucksport, is filling in until a permanent teacher can be hired.
“She has done a really wonderful job of getting all the final details of the classroom set and doing the initial meetings with parents and making them feel comfortable,” Zboray said of Nutter.
Pat Russell is the ed tech for the pre-K class.
Zboray said the children have settled in quickly and are learning the classroom rules and procedures.
“That’s everything from washing their hands as soon as they walk in to brushing their teeth after snacks,” he said.
“My goal is to get them integrated into the school. We have already started inviting them into the library. And they will be using the gym, starting with Kelly [Nutter] leading them in activities. As we get closer to the halfway point in the year, we will be having Coach [Alex] Johnson do some PE activities with them.”
So far, Trenton’s pre-K class is the only one in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, and that is something Zboray is quite proud of.
“I find myself smiling every time I say, ‘This is Trenton Elementary School. We’re a pre-K-8 school.’ That’s really cool. I like saying that