By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Members of the local legislative delegation visited several schools in Etowah County on Oct. 22 as part of the “Learning with Legislators” Day.
In some of those visits, it was a the legislators who got a chance to learn first-hand what’s going on in local schools, as well as meeting some of the students and educators most affected by education-related legislation.
At West End Elementary School, Rep. Craig Ford, D-28, got the chance to play puppet theater with four year olds in Etowah County’s only pre-kindergarten program, as well as viewing other learning centers in the pre-K classroom.
West End Elementary Principal Andrea Collett said the school is pleased to be able to offer pre-K to the children of the West End school district. In the more rural area, there are fewer pre-kindergarten programs available for children. Collett said often there is a disparity in how well kindergarteners were prepared on their first day of school.
Some children, she said, might be able to read already. Others didn’t know how to hold a pencil correctly.
This year is the first year of pre-K, and it serves 18 students. Collett said she’s anxious to see how much it will enhance children’s abilities when they move into kindergarten and first-grade.
While the four year old wanted to show off their fingerpainting, play at the water table and science station, and dress-up clothes, Sherry Battles’ fifth-graders got to learn a little more about what Ford does representative.
Ford talked to students about the importance of reading – something he said he was not fond of in school – and told students there is talk of going “all digital” with school textbooks.
Ford also questioned educators about the technology in use at West End.
Collett said virtually all teachers have a Promethian board in their classrooms, enabling them to project study materials on the board for students to see. With computers, teachers can bring in additional material from the Internet, Collett said. Most textbooks in use now have web sites, she said, that offer supplemental material.
The school uses Kindle Fires, also Collett said.
“Our teachers are getting very savvy about using them,” she said.
Ford was scheduled to visit Carlisle Elementary and Sardis High School.
Rep. Mack Butler, R-30, had plans to visit John Jones Elementary, the Career Tech Center and West End Elementary. Sen. Phil Williams was expected to visit Highland School.