By ROBERT CONNELLY
Mahoning County has moved one of its preschool programs to within the Canfield school district’s two elementary buildings for this upcoming school year.
The Mahoning County Educational Service Center, which runs several preschool programs, moved the program from Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, on North Palmyra Road, to within the C.H. Campbell and Hilltop buildings.
Linda Yosay, director of pupil, personnel and early childhood with the ESC, said Canfield approached the ESC about having preschool within the district’s buildings. She added many of the students at the career and technical center were Canfield residents so “it seemed reasonable that we just readjusted where the classrooms were located.”
The classrooms will have a capacity of 16 students, the same as it was at MCCTC, and feature a morning class and afternoon class for the half-day offerings. There were no new hires in the move, and Yosay said there was a rotation of current preschool employees within the ESC’s various preschools. She said one teacher from MCCTC was moved to Canfield.
Canfield Superintendent Alex Geordan talked about the collaborative opportunities between kindergarten and preschool teachers now. Geordan said the preschool classrooms are “very close in proximity to the kindergarten rooms in each of the buildings. We try to keep them close so that collaboration can happen just normal — at the water cooler, in the hallway during a class change, in the mornings and afternoons at the mailbox.”
Yosay said this will be the first year of the state’s new kindergarten-assessment program, and more collaboration among the teachers will benefit the students. “They’ll know some things about the children and they’ll be able to tailor, to some degree, some of the things they might be able to do, and a lot of cooperation can occur that way,” she said of the collaborations.
Canfield will feature, just as at MCCTC, a mix of special-needs students within the preschool classrooms. Yosay pointed to many ways this can help all children. “Being with their peers, the social skills, emotional development, and being able to at an early age follow directions, follow a schedule, interact with their peers,” Yosay said. “It also helps the typically developing peers from a young age to recognize that there are differences in learning among children, and they assist one another.”
She also said that as districts have built new school buildings, with classrooms set aside for preschool, more districts have moved preschool to within their own buildings. Some of the nearby preschools to Canfield run by MCESC are at South Range, Lynn Kirk Elementary at Austintown, and Jackson-Milton, among others.
Geordan said the district is going to have all-day kindergarten for the first time, and the half-day preschool will be a good transition for students as well.
Other preschools in Canfield said they have not been affected by the shift of preschool to within the district’s buildings because it is the same program that had been at MCCTC.
Karen Morvay, director of Canfield Presbyterian Preschool, 140 W. Main St., said, “It hasn’t affected us because it’s always been around. You know, not anything up and new — it’s just moved to a different physical building.”
Tracey Shacklock, director of Canfield Day Care Center, 50 Lisbon St., echoed Morvay’s thoughts. She also said that if a child is struggling with speech or has development problems, the day-care center had referred them to MCCTC.
Shacklock said it’s “always been available in the county, and I think it’s a wonderful program that they’re getting this early intervention.”
She added that it also hasn’t affected her day care because she has longer hours than the half-day preschool at Canfield.
Geordan said, “It’s parents preparing youngsters to get ready for a kindergarten program, but it’s also giving parents an opportunity to have some care for youngsters so they can go to work. … We just feel it’s a benefit to the youngster, to the family and also our faculty to have them in-house.”