Tonawanda News — Three days a week, the children who arrive at the Erie 1 BOCES Kenton Career & Technical Center preschool learn a little bit more: About their ABCs, about the seasons, about colors and shapes and getting along.
What they might not realize is that they’re teaching, too.
The preschool site at the center in the Town of Tonawanda also serves as a learning lab for high school seniors from local districts who plan to go into careers that involve children, said Ellen McKay, Early Childhood Education program instructor at the center.
”Some want to be teachers, in a classroom setting. She wants to be a pediatrician,” McKay said one morning at the preschool, pointing to one student. “I have another one who wants to be a pediatric nurse. But they all want time working with kids to see if they connect with them. So they come to us.
”It’s a great experience for them to really see what it’s like out in a classroom experience.”
High school juniors in the program also get hands-on experience, including running a play group, but it’s the seniors who coordinate the preschool, planning lessons and each taking a week’s turn in serving as director. This year, McKay said, there are about 12 seniors, each from Kenmore East or West high schools or Tonawanda High School, with about six working in the preschool at any given time. (They also serve an internship out in the field.)
A handful of days into the free program, the center is still seeking children for the sessions. There are currently 10 students, although up to 20 can be accommodated, McKay said. The children, ages 3 and 4 years old, are there from 7:45 to 9:45 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with the seniors having classwork with McKay on Mondays and Fridays. The preschool runs from October through May.