Archived Story

Ashby preschool program 4-star rating [UPDATED]

Published 9:37am Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Updated 11:39am Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Ashby School District is preparing students for a lifetime of learning, and that starts at an early age. Recently, the Ashby Preschool was given a four-star rating by Parent Aware, a rating system run by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to rate early learning programs, for its School Readiness program.

Heather Dewey, teacher and Early Childhood Coordinator at Ashby Schools, has led the effort to transform the early learning of students and prepare them for success through their educational careers.

“It definitely says that Ashby Public Schools are dedicated to early preparation and the future of our students here,” said Dewey.

The rating system measures a program by its use of practices shown by research to help children succeed as they enter kindergarten and grow through elementary, middle and high school. Rated at the highest level, the Ashby program is achieving the best preparedness for its students.

“It really comes down to intentionality,” said Dewey. “We’re constantly going over student progress in individual areas and working on improving them on a one-on-one basis.”

With a play-to-learn approach, the preschool classrooms include different areas for students to work on their math, literacy and social skills with classmates and teachers. The improvements for each student are easy to see, and Dewey said some enter Kindergarten with reading basics already achieved.

For Ashby Principal Shane Tappe, the rating shows the effort the entire district has put into using the best methods for students within the school system.

“The first order of business when I got here was looking at restructuring our preschool,” said Tappe. “We thought it was important to get students focused educationally at an early age.”

With many districts in the state now providing free kindergarten and early education to their communities, Tappe said Ashby will continue its effort in leading the trend.

“We felt we wanted to get ahead of the curve and do it in a fashion that is conducive to the students success later on,” said Tappe. “There aren’t many districts out there that offer a free preschool for their students and we hope to expand the possibilities in the future.”

At the forefront of those efforts are dedicated teachers, and Dewey’s leadership with the program has been invaluable, said Tappe.

“It takes a person like Heather to make this type of thing affective,” said Tappe. “She’s a breath of fresh air, a spark there, and she deserves the credit.”

Dewey, however, acknowledges all the support that goes into making a program successful.

“It’s just a great mending together with staff,” said Dewey. “All together it shows how well we’re working together between the school, superintendent and parents in the community.”

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