The transition to school is a big step in a child’s life. In Ferndale, Jump Start Kindergarten supports qualified students in making that transition successfully. Started as a summer program, four years ago we expanded it into a full spring semester based on its success.
Jump Starters, who began their school journey a month ago, are learning how to sit in desks, write their names, identify shapes and colors, use scissors properly, and create art projects with paint and other mediums. Equally important, they are learning how to make friends, play games at recess, listen to stories and music, and participate in conversations in a classroom setting. Some of our students come by bus, which allows them to practice the skills of bus ridership as well, even transferring from one bus to another with adult support at another one of our elementary school campuses.
This year, of course, Jump Starters are also learning the rules for attending school during a pandemic. Like all Ferndale students, they are attending class on a hybrid model, divided into two cohorts, each coming to school for in-person learning two days a week and working at home the other three days. These youngest students follow the same health and safety protocols as their older counterparts, wearing masks, washing their hands, and social distancing during the school day.
But none of this is interfering with students’ joy about being in school. “They love coming,” said principal Kim Hawes. “They are so excited to see their friends and teachers.”
Leah Rawls, the parent of both a current Jump Start student and a Jump Start alumni, talks about the program’s positive impact on her two children. “My older son participated in the program previously, and I was so impressed with his experience! The teachers, aides, and support staff were very dedicated, not only to the students’ educational needs, but also to their social and emotional well-being. Our child entered kindergarten confident, eager, and ready to continue his education, thanks to his positive start at Jump Start! We are thrilled that our other son is now enrolled in the current Jump Start cohort.”
Ferndale’s Jump Start program is located on the North Bellingham Learning Center campus and is facilitated by a group of skillful and compassionate early learning educators. Our two 2021 Jump Start teachers are Hayley Rollins, a three-year veteran of the program, and Kari Boleak, new to the program. The teachers are supported by two paraeducators, Mala Brusik and Kelli Bilderback. Rachel Bowlden, who has been with Jump Start since its inception, serves as the on-site coordinator. And Custer Principal Kim Hawes provides administrative oversight.
For more information about Ferndale’s Jump Start program, contact Kim Hawes at email@example.com.