Morley Stanwood creates additional kindergarten to ease crowding

CALENDAR TIME: When kindergarten teacher Julie Doyle asks her students to gather on a large rug at one side of the room for calendar time, she has so many students they don't all fit. A new classroom will help alleviate the high numbers in the other kindergarten rooms. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

CALENDAR TIME: When kindergarten teacher Julie Doyle asks her students to gather on a large rug at one side of the room for calendar time, she has so many students they don’t all fit. A new classroom will help alleviate the high numbers in the other kindergarten rooms. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

MORLEY — For the second year in a row, Morley Stanwood Community Schools administrators are tasked with finding a teacher and room to create a new class after the school year has begun.

A fifth kindergarten class will begin meeting on Monday, Nov. 7, under the direction of Nicole Duddles, who was recently hired as a long-term substitute teacher for the remainder of the year.

“This year, it seems like every kid who moved into our district was in kindergarten,” said Superintendent Roger Cole.

Before the addition of the new class, student numbers in the three traditional kindergarten classes were 27, 28 and 28, Cole said, with 21 students in the developmental kindergarten class. By moving six or seven students from each of those three rooms to the new class, the school will have four sections of traditional kindergarten with 20 or 21 students.

Last year, a similar situation led to the creation of an additional fourth-grade class partway through the school year. As with last year, the new classroom will be filled with students whose parents volunteered to allow their child to switch teachers.

BREAKFAST TIME: As students in Jennifer Biller's kindergarten class at Morley Stanwood Elementary have their breakfast, they are allowed to watch educational cartoons from PBS. Biller said in past years she's put out books for her students during that time, but with the number of children in her class this year, there's too many people out of their seats if she tries to give them a different activity. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BREAKFAST TIME: As students in Jennifer Biller’s kindergarten class at Morley Stanwood Elementary have their breakfast, they are allowed to watch educational cartoons from PBS. Biller said in past years she’s put out books for her students during that time, but with the number of children in her class this year, there’s too many people out of their seats if she tries to give them a different activity. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

“A letter to parents has gone out looking for volunteers to go to the new class,” Cole said. “If we don’t get enough volunteers, then we start making phone calls and asking parents if they’re willing to switch.”

In addition to identifying students for the new classroom and finding a teacher, school officials also had to find and furnish a classroom for them. Cole said the eight to 12 students in the early childhood special education program have been moved to a smaller room where the program used to be to allow the kindergarten to use the larger room.

While higher student numbers than expected is a good problem to have, Cole notes it does raise challenges, particularly in younger grades.

“It’s very different to have 26, 27, or 28 11-year-olds in a classroom versus that many 5-year-olds,” he said. “Our kindergarten teachers are terrific and have handled the caseload very, very well, but this will be advantageous to the kids and the classrooms.”

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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