Researchers know the importance of early childhood education and family involvement in kindergartners' healthy school adjustment and future academic success. All Saints Lutheran Church and Hopkins Public Schools have begun the second year of a preschool collaborative, Todos los Santos, which is designed to impact the academic success of future kindergartners.
The goals of Todos los Santos are to improve school readiness, parent involvement, and transition to kindergarten. The preschool has 10 Latino students who will enter kindergarten in the fall of 2009. Students participate in a twice weekly preschool experience at All Saints Lutheran Church, September through May. The students, all English language learners, are picked up at their homes by a school district bus, taken to All Saints Lutheran Church, and then returned to their homes on the bus. Funding for the bus has been provided by a grant from the Park Nicollet Foundation.
Becky Knickerbocker, All Saints preschool teacher and a retired Hopkins kindergarten teacher, is the teacher for Todos los Santos. She knew first-hand the difficulty of some students who arrived at kindergarten without a preschool experience. Her vision led to the creation of the Todos los Santos pilot program last January.
This year, the Todos los Santos program includes monthly parent meetings led by Denise Konen, Hopkins parent educator. Parents ride the bus with their preschooler to All Saints for information sessions led by Konen and translator Carolyn Tabor.
This innovative program has attracted interest from Gethsemane Lutheran Church, which is exploring the possibility of expanding, creating a second class, of Todos los Santos to serve more children who could benefit from a preschool experiences before going to kindergarten.