The pitter-patter of tiny feet and squeals of laughter echo in NC’s 800 hall, where a local hidden gem, a fully functioning preschool, resides. Marking the beginning of their 2019-2020 school year, NC’s Little Warrior preschool opened on Tuesday, September 3. Founded nearly forty years ago by NC teacher, Joanne Moss, the preschool opens every September, serving families with preschool-aged children in the community while providing a one-of-a-kind educational experience for NC students.
Any children in the community zoned for NC between the ages of three and five can enroll in NC’s preschool program. Potty trained preschoolers can apply for enrollment as long as one of their parents does not work at or attend NC. This rule prevents favoritism and prejudices in the preschool, ensuring the safety of all students.
As one of the only high schools in Cobb County with a preschool, NC students receive a unique opportunity to work in the preschool as teachers and gain hands-on learning experiences.
“Interacting with the kids is something so hands-on, it’s not like a project or video, it’s an actual child that you’re dealing with. Being able to get this experience at school is amazing,” said sophomore Camden Weigle.
Students watch their textbooks come to life as they interact with the preschoolers on a daily basis and observe the behavior trends and developmental patterns of young children.
Even though NC students take the role of teachers in the preschool, the high schoolers constantly learn from the preschoolers, just as much, if not more than the preschoolers learn from them.
“It’s a really cool experience to watch what we’ve learned in the classroom in actual kids development stages and to see all of their personalities shine through,” said junior Daniella King.
Once students complete all three classes of the Early Childhood Education pathway, they meet the requirements to take a certification test through the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI). If the student passes the NOCTI exam, they receive college credit in the areas of Early Childhood Education and Care, and 100% of the current director Becky Young’s students passed this test for the past three years.
Entering her seventh year of teaching Early Childhood Education at NC, Young hopes to intertwine the ideas of learning and playing in the preschool this year.
“You can play and learn at the same time, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, learning can be fun,” said preschool director, Young.
This year’s preschool roster consists of twelve children: six boys and six girls. This group of children will form what could turn into lifelong friendships and memories.
During first and second periods, these twelve eager boys and girls start their education at NC where they learn from the highschoolers taking Early Childhood Education.
“Kids are exposed to over sixty teachers so they are constantly learning from teachers with different teaching techniques and skills. The kids greatly benefit from this because every specific learning style is met due to the varying teaching styles in each teacher,” said King.
These NC student teachers will experience struggles and victories all semester in the preschool as they work alongside Young.
“We are definitely going to have some challenges, some of these children have never been away from mom and dad so they do not know how to socialize with other children and that’s going to be our main focus until at least Thanksgiving,” said Young.
NC Little Warriors Preschool teachers must possess leadership and problem-solving skills. NC’s high schoolers participate in thorough training to learn how to quickly diffuse situations that may come up in the preschool, however, if necessary, Mrs. Young will act as a buffer between a preschooler and a highschooler.
The problems that occur in the preschool deliver great learning opportunities to NC’s Little Warriors teachers as they navigate their way through the difficulties of children.
“When it comes down to it, you’re in charge; you have to be able to handle a situation without asking Mrs. Young for help. You need to know what to do and how to help a child to the best of your ability,” said sophomore Lauren Sloan.
Molding a generation of future educators, NC’s preschool continues to rapidly evolve while preparing preschoolers for kindergarten. NC’s preschool provides preschoolers with a unique start to their schooling and prepares high schoolers for careers they wish to pursue in the field of Early Childhood Education. With 62 of NC’s students teaching in preschool this semester and even more hoping to join in the Spring, preschoolers will begin to foster a love of learning and the preschool itself will stay alive in years to come.