District to expand universal pre-K with New York State Education Department grant

pre-K student draws with markers. Another student reads a book in the background The Florida Union Free School District is proud to announce the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has awarded a $210,000 grant to the district to expand full-day pre-K opportunities for four-year-old students at Golden Hill Elementary.

“This grant allows us to expand our universal pre-K program and serve all the preschool-aged students that families have requested participate in the program. It is exciting to offer this opportunity to more families,” shared Superintendent Lisamarie Spindler. “Universal pre-K not only helps children develop the necessary skills to succeed in kindergarten, but also provides a way for families to save on child care costs.”

pre-K girl builds with legos while other students play behind her as wellThis year, the district has two full day pre-K classes, with a total of 26 students. 38 are enrolled for next year. The classes use Creative Curriculum and focus on learning through play, with topics such as letter identification, sounds, math and more. Students also experience specials, including art, music, physical education, and library.

“Our pre-K program teaches the structure students need for a full school day. It’s nice to have consistency from pre-K to kindergarten where they are familiar with their cohort, the building, the teachers and their routines,” shared Golden Hill Principal Starla Ciarelli. “This allows them to become successful in the other grades quicker because they have that background knowledge of what school looks like.”

Pre-K student pets horse while mounted at Winslow field tripFlorida pre-K students’ learning extends beyond the classroom, with unique field trips to Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center. Each year, students learn to horseback ride and care for animals. “The kids get a lot out of it. They build social skills and confidence,” shared Ciarelli.

“I’m excited to open our doors to more pre-K students next year. They bring a sense of excitement and joy to the building,” said Ciarelli. “This grant is such a blessing.”