KINGSTON TWP. – It was the first day of kindergarten Wednesday for the students, the school and the teacher at the Trucksville Early Childhood Education Center.
Students were exploring their new classroom on their first day of formal schooling. The children were engaged in making handprints on paper, building with blocks and Legos, cooking with play food, and drawing pictures on the classroom newspaper page.
Jacob Zelenak, 5, had just painted his hand red and printed it on a large sheet of paper. He said the best thing about school was playing outside.
All 12 of the kindergarteners were students in preschool at the center last year. When asked if there were differences from last year, Jacob said, "All the tables and the bird."
Lauren Murray was also fascinated with Paco, the classroom cockatiel. She was excited because it was her turn to feed him. She was drawing him a picture, which she said meant, "You're the best bird ever."
Her favorite part of kindergarten so far?
"Playing with my friends."
It was not only a new experience for the children but also for the center. The kindergarten class is the first the TECEC has ever offered to the community. Probably the most excited person on the first day was Tina Kravits, the kindergarten teacher. Kravits, 51, is a native of Dallas. She finished her degree in elementary education in 1983 at Wilkes University. After graduating, she became a career member of the U.S. Air Force. Teaching a kindergarten class fulfills a lifelong dream for Kravits.
"It goes back to my degree at Wilkes," she said "I dreamed for 22 years of coming back here to teach."
Kravits, who has been working at the center for six years, helped develop the curriculum for a program called Creative Kids, which is a kindergarten extension program. Students come to the program in the afternoon after attending a half-day in kindergarten elsewhere.
Center Director Marjorie Adams of Dallas is also excited about the new program. Adams said the new kindergarten class is a result of a visioning committee formed three years ago to explore the future of the school. She said the program has been in the planning stages for two years.
Lisa and Justin Eggleston of Dallas have a daughter, Ashley, in the new kindergarten class. Their other two children go to school at the Good Shepherd Academy in Kingston. Justin said they gave Ashley the choice between the academy and TECEC. Lisa said they were very happy with Ashley's choice.
"She's been here in preschool and we were thrilled. We've been happy with the small class size and the teachers," Lisa said.
Jenelle and Chris O'Brien of Dallas have enrolled daughter Kyla in the program. Jenelle is the parent representative to the center's school board.
Jenelle, who taught first grade in public school for six years, said two of the reasons they chose the new program were small class size and the full-day program.
"It gives them more time to explore. It's more relaxed for them," she said of full-day kindergarten.
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Pete g. wilcox photos/the times leader
Kindergarten teacher Tina Kravits talks with full-day kindergarten students Wednesday on the first day of school at the Trucksville Early Learning Center.
Kindergarten student Brianna Baltruchitis plays dress-up on the first day of school on Wednesday at the Trucksville Early Learning Center.