FREE Level K Math Is Now Available
While teaching for the Wyandotte Public Schools, I was asked by the Superintendent if I would consider teaching the lowest functioning kindergarten students in the district. Federal grant monies had become available to provide extra support for these low achievers. The students had already qualified for special education services under the Pre-Primary Impaired program (PPI); in fact, the majority had started to receive services by the age of 3. Unfortunately, the regular kindergarten teachers from the district's 5 elementary buildings refused to accept these children into their classrooms. Why? They did not want them mainstreamed into their regular classrooms because the inclusion would affect their overall kindergarten scores. How sad.
Even though the Superintendent could select from other qualified special education teachers from within the district, she thought I would be the best choice. She was aware that I conducted the LTR Reading Clinic after normal school hours and felt that my teaching experiences would prove to be most beneficial for these special learners.
I accepted the challenge, with the condition that I could name this class "The Accelerated Kindergarten". The Superintendent asked me why I chose this name. I explained that the name was a perfect choice since the students' academic progress would need to be accelerated so that they would perform successfully in 1st grade classrooms the following year. The other kindergarten teachers despised the name - they said it sounded like a gifted class and I became ostracized from the other kindergarten teachers almost overnight. In fact, there were some meetings that I was not allowed to attend. As it turns out, they didn't agree with my philosophy that if given the right tools, all children could learn to read.
The Accelerated Kindergarten was housed in a vacant kindergarten classroom at one of the elementary buildings. The Superintendent and I both agreed that it would be best to meet the parents at Open House first; then students would start the following day. When I spoke with the building principal, she indicated that I could not hold my Open House on the same night as theirs; I would have to schedule my own Open House on a different day. This negative attitude towards my classroom prevailed during the entire 5 years that I taught Accelerated Kindergarten.
Luckily, I was able to schedule a separate Open House the next evening. All 14 parent(s) attended the event with many questions and concerns; their children already experienced severe language development issues. Without meeting any of their children or examining their individual files, I assured parents that their children would become successful in reading, writing, and mathematics. Honestly, I wasn't sure how to accomplish such a feat, but I was determined to succeed.
Unbeknownst to me, the parents all gathered in the parking lot and laughed at my goals for their children. Evidently, they had lower expectations because progress just couldn't happen that quickly, right? In fact, one student had just learned to speak a week before kindergarten. It was fortunate that I had already closed my classroom windows and hadn't heard their conversations. After 5 months of working with these students, we had parent - teacher conferences. During one of these conferences, a parent shared the story about the parking lot incident and apologized for their negative expectations. However, she did mention that none of the parents were laughing now and that everyone was ecstatic about their child's progress. By the end of the year, all Accelerated Kindergarten students had successfully mastered kindergarten goals and objectives; some even scored higher. These same parents were so impressed with their students' progress that they demanded that I follow their children throughout the remainder of their school career (K-12). The Superintendent and school board said that this was not possible; instead, I received a special plaque of recognition from the Superintendent, school board, and parents of the 1st Accelerated Kindergarten class. It was truly an honor.
The same multisensory techniques that I used with these amazing children are an integral part of today's Level K. This level represents the foundation of reading skills that will work for everyone, regardless of age. I am so confident that students will achieve success that I continue to provide FREE Level K workbooks.