Minter Creek Elementary School teacher Katie Nettlebeck helps Jump Start student Caleb Johnson with a classroom project. Photo by Scott Turner, KP News

Last month about two dozen Key Peninsula children who’ll be starting kindergarten at Minter Creek got a jump start on school.

They attended Peninsula School District’s new, free Jump Start program.

According to Lisa Reaugh, PSD’s assistant director for student services, the goal of the program is to help youngsters who haven’t attended preschool get ready for kindergarten.

“These are kids who’ve never been in preschool or had some similar experience, so we’re trying to make sure they are ready for school, that we have them prepared as much as possible,” Reaugh said.

This is the first year the district has offered the Jump Start program.

The program is district wide, she added, “but we know that a lot of our kids on the KP don’t have access to preschool. There aren’t a lot of daycare or preschool programs so we especially wanted them to have access to this. We had two full classes at Minter Creek,” she said.

The first couple of weeks of kindergarten are chaotic, no mater what you do, Reaugh said.

“You’ve got kids who’ve never seen a classroom before or never had to stand in line or put their things away before. This lets the teachers find a couple of good role models who can kind of show the other kids how to do things,” she said.

Katie Nettlebeck, who’s been teaching kindergarten at Minter Creek for three years, said the Jump Start program “makes a huge difference. I love it. And it’s free.”

As one of the Jump Start teachers, Nettlebeck got a chance to really get to know some of the kids who’ll be in her class when school starts Sept. 1.

“The first day in Jump Start we learned classroom rules, how to line up, where things are in the school and where things are in the classroom,” she said.

“And then after that we did little art projects so we could see if they needed help holding a pencil or holding scissors.

“A lot of them needed help with how to cut –– to cut away from them not toward them. And they learned how to use a glue stick and how not to roll it up all the way, putting the cap back on,” Nettlebeck said.

One child told her that he wasn’t allowed to use scissors so he had never used them before.

“So I could tell the kids ‘Well, now you get to use them,’” she said with a laugh.

The youngsters also learned how to ride the school bus.

“The bus driver came and talked to them and they got to take a little bus trip down the road. They got to see a farm and the farm animals,” she said.

Reed Lobdell and Ellee Gray were two of the students in Nettlebeck’s Jump Start class.

“We’re trying to learn everything about kindergarten,” Reed said. “It’s fun.”

Ellee agreed. “I’m getting ready for school,” she said. “I like kindergarten already.”

Reed and Ellie and their Jump Start classmates got a big boost toward their first real school experience, Nettlebeck said.

“It set them up to be leaders in their classroom so they can teach other kids how to do things and that makes them feel successful.”

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