District 911 focuses on children at an early age

The mission of Cambridge-Isanti District #911 Early Childhood and Family Programs is to provide comprehensive program offerings, services and resources which educate, support and strengthen families with children ages birth through kindergarten entrance.

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting Thursday, Nov. 15, the board heard a presentation from representatives of the C-I Early Childhood Programs.

Kim Goodmanson, coordinator of the Early Childhood Programs, explained

“We are very proud of the things we have going on in Early Childhood,” Goodmanson said. “The district realizes the importance of reaching babies when they are born. By the time they enter kindergarten, they are ready to learn.”

Goodmanson explained early childhood screenings are required by state law. She explained the goal is to screen children at the age of 3 1/2.

“We try to catch all the kids before they hit kindergarten to get them screened,” Goodmanson said. “We always looking for more ways to get the word out about screenings. If we can find the kids who need some extra help, we can get them that extra help at an early age.”

Goodmanson explained screening is a check of how children are doing between the ages of 3 to 4 years. It identifies, at an early stage, possible learning or health concerns so that children can get needed help before starting school.

Early Childhood Screening is a free check of height, weight, vision, hearing, immunization records, speech/language assessment and developmental Assessment.

Ashley Gravink, preschool teacher, explained this year there are 10 sections of senior preschool (ages 4-5) and five sections of junior preschool (ages 3-4). She mentioned the district will be adding an additional section of preschool at Isanti Primary School.

The mission of Preschool is to provide learning experiences that enhance the intellectual, creative, emotional, social and physical growth of children, and prepare them to develop the skills necessary to be ready for and successful in kindergarten while encouraging active involvement of their families.

“We see around 268 students every week,” Gravink explained. “We take them through the classroom experience, we make books, students use the Reading Street curriculum and we use the Handwriting without Tears workbooks.”

Angie Reed, parent educator and Early Childhood Family Education teacher, explained 166 families participate in ECFE activities on a weekly basis. And she mentioned 192 families have attended one-time special events since July.

The mission of Early Childhood Family Education is to strengthen families through the education and support of all parents in providing the best possible environment for the healthy growth and development of their children.

“We work hard to make Early Childhood Family Education a welcoming environment, but also focus on education,” Reed said. “We offer activities relating to child development, parenting topics and play and create. We have a lot of fun things going on.”

Cambridge Primary School update

Rhonda Fischer and Tanya Siedlecki, academic coaches at Cambridge Primary School, updated the board on student achievement.

Siedlecki explained the school is focused on RTI-Response to Intervention.

“RTI is collaboration time during the day where coaches can help lead and come up with intervention,” Siedlecki said. “We focus on instruction and intervention to best match the students’ needs. RTI is a research-based strategy.”

Siedlecki explained 80 percent of students are in the core curriculum where they focus on reading strategies in large group and small group instruction, as well as focus on math, in large groups and participate in math games.

Siedlecki said 15 percent of students are in intervention, and 5 percent of students are in intensive intervention, which consists of a classroom teacher and special education teacher co-teaching.

Fischer explained the decisions relating to RTI are based on data and classroom performance.

“Teachers come with ideas and look at the students’ strengths and weaknesses to determine how best to meet the students’ needs. During these meetings, teachers are really empowering each other.”

Fischer explained the teaches fill out a personal intervention plan for each student and then discuss if the plan is working.

“If the plan isn’t working, we will look at a different intervention,” Fischer said. “We take pride in using all our resources to best meet the needs of our students.”

CPS Principal Chris Grote said the RTI process works.

“This process really gets teachers together and collaborating,” Grote said. “We do then communicate with the third grade principal as the student moves up a grade. We discuss the interventions that have been done so we are all on the same page of what has been working.”