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  • Writer's pictureRobin Chieco

Perspective: Hammonton Schools

The Hammonton School District is constantly seeking opportunities to expand programs and improve the overall educational experiences for students. (THG/Dan Russoman)

The Hammonton School District is constantly seeking opportunities to expand our programs and improve the overall educational experiences for our students. The Preschool Expansion Grant presented by the NJDOE provide additional funding to offer full-day instruction to 3 and 4-year-old students within our community. This grant combined with ARP-ESSR funding will support the hiring of staffing and off-set costs to add classrooms to our facilities.

Expanding to a full-day program will give all students the benefits of an enhanced preschool curriculum. Currently, our half-day program limits the time and depth of instruction. By increasing to a full day, students will have more time for social, emotional and academic development along with additional opportunities for imagination, creative expression and outdoor play.

In order to qualify for expansion funding, additional personnel and services are needed. Classroom enrollment is limited to 15 students. As a result, some of our pre-K students will need to be reassigned to a new teacher. In addition, a master teacher, a speech therapist, a case manager and a nurse are required for a full-day pre-K program. The master teacher will provide instructional support and coaching for teachers as well as assisting with planning parent workshops to further engage families in their child’s learning.

Our current pre-K program implements Creative Curriculum with Teaching Strategies GOLD assessments. Creative Curriculum is a comprehensive, research-based curriculum focusing on literacy, math, science, social studies, arts and technology. With increased instructional time, additional staff and resources, we will be able to provide a full-day, enhanced program in which we implement our curriculum with greater fidelity. Deeper community participation that will assist our students to become successful learners as they begin their educational journey. Our expanded pre-K program will provide a stronger foundation for our youngest learners as they begin their educational journey.

The Preschool Expansion Grant was submitted on November 19, 2021 and approved on December 17, 2021 with a required implementation date of January 22, 2022. Due to this accelerated timeline imposed by the NJDOE, transportation, meals, staffing, classroom materials and supplies, schedules, remodeling of classroom and compliance with additional preschool and COVID regulations were just a few of the logistical challenges posed to the district. As a result of our efforts, the following timeline for implementation is listed below:

• On Dec. 20, parents were scheduled to be notified of grant status and information related to the program.

• Beginning Jan. 10, new staff will work with existing classrooms to transition to the full-day program. This will allow the students an opportunity to meet and interact with new teachers along with their existing teachers.

• Placement letters will be sent home on Jan. 12. Per grant requirements, class sizes cannot exceed 15 students.

• A parent meeting will be held on Jan. 12 in the evening to discuss the new program and to provide an opportunity for parents to meet the new teachers.

• No pre-K classes will be held on Jan. 14 and Jan 18 to allow for staff professional development and time to set up classrooms in preparation for the first day of full-day pre-K on Jan. 19.

• On Jan. 18, an orientation session will be offered for all pre-K parents and students to see classrooms.

• Students will attend their first day of full-day pre-K on Jan. 19.

Although the timeline for implementation of the program is challenging and a change in the middle of the year is disruptive, the benefits of a full-day pre-K program will be felt across the district. In addition, all families in the future will have access to free, full-day pre-K for their children as they begin their successful educational careers in the Hammonton School District.

Robin Chieco

Superintendent of Schools



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