Bald Knob Early Childhood Education

Adding infants, toddlers boosts Bald Knob Early Childhood Center's enrollment by 26

Courtesy of Searcy Daily-Citizen

The Bald Knob School District’s Early Childhood Center has “grown by 26 spots” this school year, according to the center’s director, Shannon Hazelwood, after “adding infants and toddlers to our program.”

“Eighteen out of the 20 infant spots are filled,” Hazelwood told the Bald Knob School Board on Monday. “Twenty-three out of the 31 toddler spots are filled. Forty out of our 40 pre-K spots have been filled.”

Overall for the district, enrollment was up as of Aug. 15 from the end of last year. Superintendent Melissa Gipson said enrollment was at 1,079 while it ended last year 1,056.

Hazelwood said for her school, toddlers are a little hard to come by possibly because parents want to be more hands on with them, but in regard to infants, “they pretty much filled us up.”freestar

There are 37 paying students, while 30 are federal pre-K students,” she said. Eleven are low-income, voucher students and three students are fosters.

Hazelwood said the childhood center also has started PUPS (Program Utilizing Parents Support). “This group will have parent involvement for family engagements, getting them to volunteer more in our program and just helping the teacher plan family engagement nights.”

On Sept. 12, screenings will take place, according to Hazelwood. Clearly Speaking provides therapy for birth to 3 years olds for any developmental delay and the Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative takes care of the 3- to 5-year-olds.

Over the summer, Hazelwood said, there was an eight-day pre-K social emotional course on campus. “We invited anyone within the surrounding areas to come and we had several teachers from different locations.”

She said the purpose for this course was to help teachers with the triggers of behaviors and how to deescalate behaviors within the classrooms.

Also during the summer, a meet and greet lawn party was held, where newly enrolled parents and students spent time with teachers and got to meet other parents within the center. And open house also took place, and parent-teacher conferences will be held this month.

Hopefully in October, Hazelwood said, another family engagement night will be coming up. She said a survey will be used to see when the parents want to do the fall get-together.

Parents also can see ongoing work sampling for 3- to 5-year-olds through the “Seesaw” App and through the Brightwheel App for the 6 weeks to 3 years age group. Teachers link their developmental profiles to these apps, Hazelwood said, “so every parent can see what their children are learning on a daily basis.”