Pre-K Openings

Open Spots Remain in Weakley County Schools Free Pre-K
Posted on 08/26/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Open Spots Remain in Weakley County Schools Free Pre-K“Everyone sit crisscross applesauce,” said pre-K teacher Julie Arnold to the four-year-olds who were apparently not quite used to the early morning classroom and were surprisingly quiet after their wake-up routine of stretching with an animated robot on the big screen.

When one small boy couldn’t quite follow the large photo that showed the cross-legged position that’s a staple in school classrooms, a fellow student offered directions in how the legs intertwined.

Next came a reminder of classroom rules and “green” choices like listening and cleaning up and “red” choices to avoid like running indoors and being loud.

Within a few minutes, students were reviewing a book that had been introduced last week. This time students became the baby owls and mother (courtesy of owl masks provide by Arnold) and repeated the lines each character would say.

Even taking attendance is creative in a pre-K classroom. Sitting in a circle, the class passed a ball of yarn to the person to their right and said the next number. Soon, they all agreed nine people were in their circle.

Next up, centers were once again explained. The children then rushed (but did not run) to tables set up with individual activities such as drawing on a talking tablet, dressing a favorite character with magnetized clothes, discovering the changes made by stacking colored wheels on a light table, and the permanent learning centers like the blocks area with toy cars and trucks.

In less than an hour -- that also included checking in and letting teachers know how they were feeling, the pledge and announcements over the intercom -- the preschoolers’ minds and bodies had been stretched. Small fingers had manipulated small items. And, most importantly to the adults in the room, pre-kindergarteners felt comfort and care.

Families in Weakley County can pay between $400 and nearly $550 a month for care for their pre-kindergarteners. But when that figure is beyond the families’ means, they still have a place to turn. Weakley County Schools include five locations for four-year-old pre-K – Dresden Elementary, Gleason, Greenfield, Martin Primary and Sharon. The five-day-a-week program is free for income-eligible families.

In Weakley County, each preschool class includes a teacher and an educational assistant (EA): Greenfield, Julie Arnold, teacher, and Bailey Daniel, EA; Gleason, Sherri Brawner, teacher, and Jenny Lehmkuhl, EA; Sharon, Beth Mathews, teacher, and Olivia Hensley, EA; Dresden Elementary, Marla Rook, teacher, and Cindy Mitchell, EA; Martin Primary, Kendall Wylie and Taylor Zantop, teachers, and Brandi Barner and Brandie Roberts, EAs.

Every teacher is licensed and certified to teach in Pre-K. EAs have either some type of college degree or Child Development Associate credential or are working on that process.

“Weakley County Schools is fortunate to have the caliber of teachers and EAs we do, and all supported by the years of experience of our consultant Karen Fowler,” said Terri Stephenson, the instructional supervisor for elementary schools under which the pre-K program falls. “Our hope is that we can get the word out to families of four-year-olds who may be in a financial bind yet understand that pre-K helps set students up for later academic success.”

Openings for income-eligible families with four-year-olds are still available, Stephenson explained. A second enrollment day is set for September 8. At that time, the schools will be prepared to also speak with parents of three-year-olds who may be interested in the program should space remain available.


pre-K reviewing a book
What appears to be a simple story time with Greenfield pre-K teacher Julie Arnold is actually an opportunity for pre-K students to develop skills such as speaking in complete sentences as they repeat lines from the book. Weakley County has six pre-K classrooms in five locations.