Even Start program making progress
In January, the Even Start Family Literacy Program’s preschool sent out an invitation for Anglo students.The preschool, which Colorado Mountain College runs, previously had been open to any family but primarily attracted Latino families where parents and children attended classes. Now, three months later, both Anglo and Latino parents are happy with the program’s progress. The school seems almost a model for two diverse, often separate, communities in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys.Each morning, Latino and Anglo parents gather with their preschoolers in the program’s classroom in Glenwood Springs Elementary. The parents stay for half an hour to help the kids and get some guidance from teachers. But after that, the kids have some time to explore the room on their own.On Tuesday, three young students, one Anglo girl and two Latino boys, joined each other on the floor of the room with masking tape and cardboard to build a castle. “Our goal is for our kids to learn about different cultures,” said Melissa Taucher, the preschool’s early childhood specialist. “At a young age kids are just so open to being with people that are different.” Peggy Thomas signed her daughter, Levyn, up, in hopes that she’d learn Spanish. Three months in, Levyn has picked up new words from her Latino classmates, Thomas said. Though just four Anglo kids are in the 15-student class, Latino students are also reaping rewards. Rosa Vargas’ daughter, Adriana, is much better in English since the addition of Anglo students, she said. The addition of Anglos benefits students, it also provides the Family Literacy Program with a tuition base. Typically the program is only open to families. While the child attends the class, so do parents, taking GED or ESL classes. For those families, the program is free, said Even Start director Rebecca Ruland. Anglo families whose parents are not also in classes, however, pay for children to attend the preschool. But the Anglo parents don’t seem to mind. The class, “is just a great opportunity for (Levyn) to mix with different kids,” Thomas said.The class, “is just a great opportunity for (Levyn) to mix with different kids,” Thomas said.
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