Gail Addison Guss, recently retired Chair | Park Forest Preschool Board
As another school year begins for Park Forest Preschool, we are delighted to be welcoming a wonderful learning community of children who are two, three, and four years old, their families, their teachers, and our new Director, Sue Hills. With the addition of procedures developed by our Health and Safety Committee to ensure our safety, we look forward to another year of developing consistent, loving relationships with the children, providing support and education for our families, and creating a teaching environment in which our staff can create curriculum which is stimulating, fosters self-confidence and resiliency and offers a sense of security to children and families. Although we maintained our contact with children and families through the spring providing activities, virtual story times, and food deliveries, we are looking forward to the opportunity to be together again with the consistency, support, and joy that allows.
This will be the 53rd fall that Park Forest Preschool, a non-profit, tuition free school for qualifying families, will be opening its doors. We continue to be supported by local faith communities, civic organizations, the United Way, and individual donations. We are deeply grateful for this grass roots support which has allowed us to provide a program uniquely staffed to provide a low teacher to child ratio. In this way, we are able to meet the needs of children who are at-risk and families that may need more support. We have recently changed our income qualifications to include more families who are in need of services and unable to afford an early care setting. We believe that all children deserve a rich early childhood experience: holistic, nurturing and developmentally appropriate, to prepare them for kindergarten and life. With the support of the community, we have been able to add a week to our school year and include an afternoon program for one classroom. This will increase the time children and teachers interact which supports our mission of providing a quality early childhood experience for our children.
Research supports what early childhood educators have long known – a quality early childhood experience, including a stimulating, warm environment with consistent, loving educators, creates the framework for a solid beginning. It provides a host of short and long term benefits for children not just in academic skills but also in health and social development. Programs that rely on evidence-based practice reduce special needs placement and grade retention, increase graduation rates, and decrease the likelihood of poor life choices which may lead to incarceration. Support of parents in our program creates a community in which adults are also learning and feeling supported.
If you would like to learn more about Park Forest Preschool, visit our website at www.parkforestpreschool.org, and our Facebook page or call 231-8492.