Durfee High Early Education students now run a full-time preschool
FALL RIVER — The student-run preschool at BMC Durfee High School has expanded to offer full-time care, a first for the program that gives students real-world experience as preschool teachers.
“We have a lot of great future teachers here,” said Kathy Garcia, a teacher in the school’s Early Education and Care program, which is part of the Career, Vocational and Technical Education department.
Tucked away in part of the CVTE wing in Durfee, with its own entrance to the building, is a preschool classroom adorned with small tables, craft supplies, educational toys and books. There, sophomores, juniors, and seniors from the school’s Early Education and Care program help run the Hilltopper Preschool, a fully functioning preschool open to children from the community.
Previously, the kindergarten was only open for a few hours a day, but from this school year it has changed to full-time. From now on, the nursery school is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day of the week. Tuition is $700 per month.
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Five pupils are currently enrolled in the nursery school, with room this year for five more to enroll. Around 60 Durfee pupils participate in the Early Childhood Education and Care program and take turns teaching in the nursery school.
The small number of students means an unusually high teacher to student ratio.
“Nobody else will get this much care and attention,” Garcia said.
Cindy Sylvia, CVTA manager at Durfee, said she hopes to expand the program to 20 preschoolers over the next few years.
As well as giving lessons in subjects such as colours, shapes and numbers, Durfee students take theory lessons to learn skills such as lesson planning through the CVTE department and spend time on internship in other city daycares. They leave the program as Certified Early Childhood Education teachers.
“They can go to preschool and teach right out of high school,” Sylvia said.
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Megan Eldridge, a senior at Durfee and a teacher in the Early Years programme, said it’s always satisfying to be the one helping a preschooler learn their ABCs or numbers.
“I like that when they start, they really don’t know anything. But in the end, they have everything we taught them,” she said.
Another Durfee senior on the program, Jaylynn Furtado, said she loves doing science demonstrations with the kids.
“I love seeing the smiles on their faces,” she said. “I have always wanted to work with children, so his program has been great for me.”
Audrey Cooney can be contacted at [email protected] Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.