Most schools would be content with their progress as a five-star program, but Valley Local School’s preschool system is continually working to improve.
A new initiative called “Giggles and Grandberries” was a program created by Dawn Roe, an assistant teacher at the preschool. In this program, the school is partnering with Hillview Retirement Center to connect the children with the residents.
Lisa Harley is the preschool’s director, and was working with her team to try and improve community involvement.
“Every year we analyze our program,” Harley said, “and we come up with a continuous improvement plan. This year, one of our goals was to improve community outreach. That’s where this came from, and from there, Dawn Roe came up with the idea, and we ran with it.”
The plan is to transport the preschool students down to Hillview three times this academic school year. Hillview will be visit the preschool once, so there will be one visit per quarter.
Partnering with Hillview Retirement Center gives the students a chance to spend time and learn from the residents.
“Our theme that we chose for this year is patriotism,” Harley said. “Our kiddos at this age don’t really seem to understand why everyday Valley Elementary stands to say the pledge of allegiance, what that means, what patriotism means, or why we have a huge Veteran’s Day assembly at our school, and it’s important. We thought that maybe the residents of Hillview could help with that.”
One trip to Hillview has already been made, and the results put a smile on everyone’s face.
“We’ve gone down to Hillview once so far,” Harley said, “on October the 13th. It was awesome. They sang songs with the kiddos, our little ones presented them with colorings that they had done that went along with the patriotism theme, Hillview provided snacks, and they had such a great time. It’s so awesome to see our kids interacting with them. They would just climb right up on their laps and the people from Hillview loved on our kids. So many of them need that. Many of the residents there, and our kids really need that.”
“In future meetings, the plan is to ask the residents if they’re veterans to talk about their experiences, of course without getting too graphic,” Harley said. “We want to know what it means to them to stand at attention, not whispering or moving around, taking off their hats, and to show respect. I think if our students hear that, they’ll remember what those residents said. I think it’ll improve our kids and their respect for people in the military, and it’s really important to teach our young ones. Working with them is an intentional step.”
The hope for the future is to grow. If more preschools would like to join this program or more branches of Hillview open their doors, Harley wants to help and continue to connect others.