While schools throughout Waxahachie ISD are shuffling campuses for the 2018-2019 school year, Turner Prekindergarten Academy will soon expand to full-time education and will enroll about 50 additional students.
Waxahachie ISD Director of Public Relations Jenny Bridges said the transition is something the district has wanted for many years. She also noted the expansion will provide more children the opportunity to begin learning at an earlier age.
“It is a way for us to start them on the educational path as soon as we can,” Bridges informed. “So, give them a head start when it comes to starting kindergarten. That way, they are caught up and know content other kids know going into kindergarten.”
Turner Prekindergarten Academy Principal Ora Fraizer said the switch to a full-time schedule benefits all three parties: the teachers, parents and, most significantly, the students.
The academy currently operates all day but deals with two segments of preschoolers. Now with the full-day, parents will not have to spend their lunch hour picking up children only to take them to another destination and finish their workday.
“It’s really difficult for our parents,” Fraizer stated. “Our program now runs from 7:45 to 11:30 a.m., so a lot of them are here during lunch, trying to pick them up and then get them to where they need to be and that’s really hard.”
But with more time on the schedule comes more space in the building. Within the number of schools transitioning to other campuses, Waxahachie High School of Choice and Challenge Academy are migrating to the current Waxahachie High School (future site of Coleman Junior High) at the Billy Bates Center. Currently, they are housed at the Turner campus.
For the 2018-19 school year, Turner Prekindergarten Academy will share the building with only the Little Chiefs Academy, which is already located on the campus. Little Chiefs Academy is a childcare center for children of district employees and district teen-parents.
With the additional space, Fraizer estimated Turner Prekindergarten Academy could enroll up to 250 students. At this time, the building is under renovations. Therefore, an exact number is hard to grasp. The academy is also planning on hiring three teachers for both general education and special education.
Even though the academy is operating as a half day now, the students still have music, physical education, and art class.
“The biggest advantage is now the students will have more time with us to impart academic knowledge. So right now, we are trying to do a whole lot in a half day, but we could get so much more when we become a full day,” Fraizer elaborated.
The academy’s curriculum and instruction are based on the Texas Pre-Kindergarten Guidelines, which is the state standard. Fraizer confirmed the school would use the same guidelines in addition to their student goals. Even with the state standard, the school has higher expectations here and there. With the longer days, the students will be able to reach more of those academic goals.
Fraizer mentioned how some students enroll ready to read, while others are still getting the basics down. With full days, she hopes to have more students reading by the time they graduate to kindergarten.
“Our day won’t be as long as a kindergarten day, but it will be longer than what we have right now. So, we want to maximize and use every bit of that time,” Fraizer shared. “They will still have computer and P.E. as a portion of their day, but now will have more time in the classroom with that teacher — there are more stories to be read, more words to be learned. That’s what we’re hoping for.
But there are qualifications to enroll at Turner Prekindergarten Academy. A child must be at least four years old on-or-before Sept. 1 of the upcoming school year. A child enrolling in the Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) can register at age three.
Enrollment for the 2018-19 school year opens in late April or early May. For more information, visit www.turner.wisd.org or call (972) 923-4690.