In a Forest Hills Gardens classroom lush with bright colors, books and even an igloo constructed with milk jugs, 19 pre−kindergarten students busied themselves with blocks and puzzles Friday. As the students discussed such creations as block robots with school officials or other children, they were clearly having fun.
What these 19 students probably do not know is they are attending one of the city’s most coveted pre−kindergarten programs.
Last year the program received 195 applicants for 19 full−day seats, making it the fifth−most difficult pre−kindergarten program to get into and the most sought−after school in District 28, according to recently released data from the city Department of Education.
District 28 includes schools in Forest Hills, Rego Park, Jamaica, South Jamaica, Kew Gardens and Springfield Gardens.
For the first time, the DOE is providing parents with information about the number of applicants for the current school year compared to the available seats. The most competitive pre−kindergarten program was at PS 503 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with 187 children applying for 10 seats.
Parents of pre−kindergarten students at PS 101 attribute the small odds 4−year−olds have in landing a spot in the Forest Hills school primarily to the program’s teacher, Rhonda Corin.
Forest Hills resident Ann Kittredge said she opted to apply for her son Robbie, 5, to go to PS 101 this year, regardless of the fact that she was originally apprehensive about the full−day pre−kindergarten program the school implemented three years ago.
“I finally decided that I really wanted him to have Mrs. Corin,” Kittredge said. “That was more important to me.”
Forest Hills resident Rachelle Schlosser, whose child is in the pre−kindergarten program at PS 101, praised Corin’s classroom activities.
“They do so much in there, such as making an igloo out of milk bottles or bringing in teddy bears for hibernation,” Schlosser said.
Corin, who has help in the classroom from family worker Ronette Savoth and paraprofessional Maria Leal, has a wide variety of programming for the students, from studying such children’s authors as Ezra Jack Keats or Eric Carle to learning how to spell.
The teacher involves the children in community events, including collecting food for City Harvest, and she emphasizes the need to incorporate children’s interests into their academic routine.
“For example, students said they were interested in polar bears, so we read and wrote about polar bears,” Corin said. “Or they fell in love with the ginkgo tree when we were studying leaves, so we wrote a poem about the ginkgo tree.”
PS 101 Principal Ronnie Feder praised Corin’s willingness to continually update herself on teaching methods for pre−kindergarten, and the teacher has taken everything from music therapy to story−telling courses during her summer break.
Corin’s efforts to educate the 4− and 5−year−olds have been so successful that teachers from around the city have come to observe her, Feder said.Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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