Norfolk Public Schools has been selected to receive an Early Childhood Education grant from the Nebraska Department of Education for the 2022-2023 school year. The grant award is $155,000 for the expansion of an additional full day four year old classroom serving 20 students. With the addition of this classroom, Little Panthers Preschool will serve 240 students at no cost to families. Norfolk Public Schools represents one out of only nine schools chosen throughout the state.
“We are fortunate to be given the opportunity from the Nebraska Department of Education to continue the growth of our Little Panthers Preschool program. Our goal is to work collaboratively with the early childhood professionals in our community to ensure every child has access to high quality learning experiences. With research indicating that 90% of brain development occurs by the time a child turns five years old, we know that quality early care and education must be a priority for our children of Norfolk. We strive for all children transitioning into kindergarten to have a foundation of social emotional and learning skills that can support their long term educational success,” said Little Panthers Preschool Principal Melissa Jantz.
Funded projects operate using research-based elements of quality early childhood education programs intended to produce strong outcomes for children.
Such elements of quality include:
- Strong family involvement/education component recognizing the central role of parents in their children’s development and learning
- Well-trained staff and optimum staff and child ratios in programs providing direct services to children
- Developmentally and linguistically appropriate and culturally sensitive curriculum, practices, and assessment
- Sensitivity to the economic and logistical needs and circumstances of families in the provision of services
- Integration of children of diverse social and economic characteristics
- Inclusion of children with disabilities
- Sound evaluation component
- Continuity with programs in kindergarten and elementary grades
- Procedures to ensure participating children and families have access to comprehensive nutrition (including at least one meal per day) and health and social services
- Parent/community advisory group which provides substantive ongoing direction to the program
“This grant funding will help us continue to grow the outstanding early childhood program we have developed at Little Panthers Preschool, where three and four year old preschool children are provided with developmentally appropriate learning and play opportunities--regardless of their ability or income level,” said Superintendent Dr. Jami Jo Thompson.