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WE Embrace Equity: Migrant Pre-k Program

Kindergarten is a big deal for children socially, emotionally and academically. It helps for students and families to be as prepared as possible, which is why the Beaverton School District developed the Migrant Pre-k program.

"Their families are moving from one location to another to look for work and there is an interruption in schooling, or an interruption in their relationships with their peers. When that transfers into the school setting, you see they need a lot more support," says Sarita Amaya, Assistant Administrator for Multilingual Programs.

Polly Ramirez, Judy Swearingen and Josie Antaki coordinate the program, offering fall, spring and summer sessions. The fall and spring sessions run 6-8 weeks, two evenings a week for 90 minutes each. The summer session is more intensive, running for three weeks, four days a week and four hours each day in July. "We reach out to 25 to 30 students ages 3-5 and we usually get about 20," says Amaya.

There are three components to the program. The first is the actual classroom instruction for the students. A certified pre-k teacher and instructional assistant teach students letter recognition, sounds and numbers. The children have the opportunity to learn what it's like to be in a classroom setting. "I think the more opportunities that kids have at an early age to interact with each other, the more likely they will be able to compromise and get along in a social context," says Amaya.

The second component to the program are classes for parents. At the same time their pre-k children are learning, parents are learning as well. Classes include nutrition, cooking technology and how to work with children at home to build pre-k early learning skills.

The final component provides support for siblings. This could be homework time, extra support in a subject they are struggling in and the Stride Academy. Stride Academy is an online program fully funded by the state Migrant Education Program. Students are able to log in and work on their reading, English and math skills. Amaya says the program takes into account the entire family and eliminates the barrier of childcare. "It creates a space where the entire family can learn and then use and apply what they learn."