Head Start comes to FPS, Great Start Readiness returns

By: Maria Allard, | Warren Weekly | Published August 11, 2017

WARREN — As Fitzgerald Public Schools officials reopen the former Schofield Elementary School building for the 2017-18 school year, it will now be known as the Schofield Early Childhood Center.

A new program that will be offered in the building is a Macomb Community Action Head Start school readiness program. Head Start is state-funded, income-based program for children from birth to age 5 that focuses on healthy child development and school readiness.

Head Start is most widely known for its preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-old children, which will be offered at Schofield. With Head Start, each child’s needs are addressed individually in a play-based and supportive environment. The program is offered tuition-free to families that qualify.

The program will be open to Macomb County residents, not just those of the Fitzgerald district. School officials said that reopening Schofield allows the district more space to bring in Head Start.

“We’re thrilled to have Head Start with us,” Schofield ECC Principal Theresa Swalec said. “This is going to help (the) child have that experience of preschool before entering kindergarten. It’s a literacy- and language-based curriculum. We work on developing the whole child socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively. There’s a set routine to their day. They experience being in a classroom setting, with the child learning from different adults.”

Three Head Start classes are planned. Each class will have one teacher and one paraprofessional.

“We’re very fortunate in that we can partner with Macomb Community Action Head Start,” FPS Superintendent Barbara VanSweden said. “It’s a real positive addition to the district. It adds another dimension. Obviously, we’re looking at developing the academic sides of our students. We’re also looking at helping kids work with one another, not only by yourself but with others.”

Students will work in small groups, large groups and individually. They also will have choice time, which also is known as playtime. The Head Start teacher and paraprofessional will visit the families prior to the start of the school year.

“They do two home visits a year, so the child and the family is very comfortable and the teachers learn about the family and child,” Swalec said.

Progress reports are given and three assessments are done during the year: in the fall, winter and spring.

Schofield also will offer a Great Start Readiness preschool program, which is a state-funded and income-based program for children who turn 4 by Sept. 1. FPS has offered GSR in past years and, like Head Start, it is offered tuition-free to families that qualify.

Morning and afternoon sessions will be offered. Both Head Start and GSR will follow the Creative Curriculum, which is one of the state-mandated curriculums.

Parents should call their school district to find out if they qualify for Head Start. For information about Head Start, call (586) 469-5215. For more information on GSR, call Fitzgerald’s Central Enrollment Office at (586) 758-0980 or visit fitz.k12.mi.us/register.

Along with Head Start and GSR, Schofield will house the following programs: 4-year-old preschool, early childhood special education preschool, a Play and Learn program provided by Macomb Families Services, a parent/toddler class and kindergarten.

At the end of the 2013-14 school year, the Fitzgerald Public Schools Board of Education closed Schofield Elementary School in an effort to save money at a time when the district was looking at a $1.6 million shortfall. VanSweden said enrollment increased this past year, prompting district officials to reopen the school.

Because Schofield is reopening, school officials will turn each of the district’s three elementary school buildings into schools focused on one developmental stage. Preschool and kindergarten students will attend Schofield, students in grades one through three will attend Westview, and fourth- and fifth-grade students will be at Mound Park.