Salma Mady-Abrahim, senior at North Plainfield High School
The North Plainfield School District received a $1.6 million grant from the state of New Jersey,
through a competitive Preschool Expansion Aid application process, that will allow the district to offer a full day preschool program to all families in the community.
Prior to receiving the grant, the district had a half-day preschool program in place through a partnership with two community providers, Growing Tree Preschool and Holy Cross Preschool.
The community expressed the need for a full day preschool program to enhance students’ first
educational experiences as well as assist parents by providing a single school location for their children. Superintendent of Schools, Dr. James McLaughlin, believes that the half-day program and partnership helped to strengthen the district’s application.
“This partnership truly showed that our commitment is not just school-based but community-based – a very important part of preschool philosophy,” said McLaughlin. “Our curriculum, our classroom model, our teachers understanding of preschool education, and the other many positive attributes of our program made our application extremely strong.”
The funds have been used to hire teachers, provide breakfast and lunch to the students, to purchase furniture and class materials, to provide additional training, and to add a behavioral specialist to the preschool staff.
The program, which began on October 2, allows a ll four-year-old North Plainfield students to experience a full day of school at no family expense. The curriculum emphasizes cooperation with others, balance, gross motor/ fine motor skills and coordination, pencil grip, language comprehension, expressing thoughts and needs, conversation skills, curiosity, problem-solving, engagement, making connections in learning, symbolic thought, and sorting. Additionally, the major skill and content areas necessary for a solid foundation in academic learning will be provided.
“It’s so important to emphasize that all this learning occurs in a natural and developmentally appropriate way with lots of time for movement, play, and curiosity. It is also so important that our children see learning as a fun activity and school as a place they want to be,” said McLaughlin.
“We are tremendously excited to have this program in our town and provide our youngest students with a real opportunity to start their school careers with a solid foundation for future learning,” said McLaughlin. “Our motivation is always to meet the needs of our students and our whole school community embraces that responsibility. North Plainfield is a special place for students and we are extremely happy to be able to offer the gift of preschool education to the families we serve.”