The new class is different from the other classes already existing in the county because of where its funds come from.
“Instead of state funds, all the funds are locally generated through taxes, SPLOST, and so on,” Miller said. “Teachers get a full salary — a local salary and a state salary — and Gainesville city schools pay more than what the state would. And these salaries motivate the teachers.”
Deana Sanders is a teacher at Fair Street who has been teaching pre-K for over 10 years, and she stressed that it is never too early for children to start learning.
“They pick up on all kinds of things,” Sanders said. “Some of the things they come up with you wouldn’t expect 4-year-olds to pick up on.”
Sanders explained that while much of what her pre-K class does may look like playing, they are in fact learning through everything they do in the class.
“At this age they learn the best through play,” Sanders said. “They love sorting the toys and forming patterns, and I take pictures and notes while they play. It can be crazy, but our unofficial motto of pre-K is ‘embrace the crazy’.”
Miller also stressed the importance of pre-K for the children who attend.
“It’s a pretty rigorous program for 4-year-olds, but kindergarten standards are so high it’s almost impossible to go into kindergarten without knowing something,” Miller said. “It’s such a valuable asset to our schools, and kindergarten teachers can tell right away that the students went to pre-K.”
Miller explained that if the parents of a child work, it may be hard to find the time to teach them letters, numbers, and other knowledge the children need to know before going to kindergarten. With awareness of the importance of pre-K growing, both the district and the state are more open to funding new classes, according to Miller.
This week is also the 26th annual pre-K week for the state of Georgia. The goal of pre-K week is to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education for three- and four-year olds. With increased awareness of this importance, the state will be more inclined to fund pre-K because they will better see its value, according to Miller.