Numerous studies have shown that children who are in a learning environment at an early age are better prepared when they enter kindergarten. That’s why the opening of Pine Ridge Prep will be so beneficial to some East Topeka families.
Four year olds living in and near the Pine Ridge Housing area of East Topeka will have a spectacular new learning center when they arrive for the first day of school on August 23. Pine Ridge Prep is described as a demonstration learning community. That means children from Head Start, special education and the Kansas Preschool Program will learn together in the same classroom. Sixteen students will attend for three hours in the morning and will receive breakfast and lunch. Another 16 will attend for three hours in the afternoon and get lunch and a snack. The children come from families who live in the neighborhood and who meet certain criteria.
Two certified teachers and two paraprofessionals will be at Pine Ridge Prep to help the youngsters expand their vocabulary, learn good listening skills, learn how to take turns and how to count objects and recognize patterns etc. The new facility contains books, music, computer stations and art supplies as well as alphabet charts and a writing center.
Today a ribbon cutting was held at Pine Ridge Prep which is located at 1110 SE Highland. Attending were representatives of Topeka Public Schools and its many partners that made Pine Ridge Prep possible. One of those partners is the Topeka Housing Authority.
Dr. Frank Ybarra is chairman of the Topeka Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. “This idea came about two years ago in terms of thinking about something we could do as far as the housing authority and the children we had here. The school district jumped right into the idea and United Way supported us and two years later we have a program that could be a model for the United States.” Topeka Public Schools Board of Education President Patrick Woods talked about this being another partnership for the school district. “You can see the board of education’s philosophy of building partnerships that reap dividends for our students. It is paying out again with a very rich dividend for early childhood education.”
Topeka Public Schools' partners in Pine Ridge prep are: Topeka Housing Authority, United Way of Topeka, Parents as Teachers, Kansas Head Start Association, Community Action Head Start and the Topeka Public Schools Foundation.