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April 15, 2013

LCSC grants $10K to Begindergarten

Program to expand to 100 children this summer.

Begindergarten snagged a $10,000 grant just as its director plans to add 47 percent more children to the summer kindergarten readiness program.

Last week, Logansport Community School Corp. donated $10,000 of its grant dollars earmarked for remediation to Reading Railroad, the organization that runs Begindergarten.

The program “has had a huge impact on helping prepare our kids for kindergarten,” said Michele Starkey, LCSC superintendent. “We appreciate what they do.”

Last year, 68 children finished Begindergarten before enrolling in kindergarten classes in Logansport, said Rena Sterrett, Reading Railroad director. She hopes to raise that number to 100 this summer.

Those are children who by and large haven’t been to preschool and lack basic skills needed for kindergarten, Starkey said. They may not have been eligible for Head Start preschool classes, said Sterrett, or otherwise missed learning their alphabet, colors and how to adjust to a routine.

Begindergarten will begin taking students from Pioneer Regional School Corp. in the Royal Center area as well as Logansport students, Sterrett said.

She approached Pioneer administrators, who were eager to allow Reading Railroad to screen children entering kindergarten in the fall and enroll them in Begindergarten.

Transportation will be the only cost Pioneer schools will foot, said Beth Dean, principal at Pioneer Elementary School. She expects children will benefit, though.

“I think they’ll come to kindergarten with more readiness to start school,” she said. “Some of the kids who qualify obviously are lacking some of the basic skills, knowing their ABCs, knowing their colors.”

As of Friday, seven Pioneer children qualified for Begindergarten, Dean said, but the screening process was still under way.

Logansport school administrators intend to keep supporting Begindergarten with another $10,000 grant next year.

“It’s a great, worthwhile partnership,” Starkey said.

“I always say an education is like building a house. You can’t build it on a shaky foundation because it’s going to crumble. These early years are critical.”

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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