- Coatesville Area School District
CASH's Preschool Graduation 2023
Coatesville High School’s Unique Preschool Program
Graduates the Class of 2023
The 14 pint-sized graduates who made their way across the stage at Coatesville Area Senior High School last week have a list of impressive accomplishments from their school year – including beginning to identify letters and learning how to count. But for the Coatesville Area Senior High School’s Laboratory Preschool Program graduates, the biggest takeaway from their year in the preschool program is the relationships they’ve forged with the 87 different high schoolers who have nurtured the 3 – 5 year olds throughout the year, as part of their Child Development class.
Since 1967 when the high school opened, the program has been offering preschool education to small groups of community youngsters, four days a week, from October through May.
Students enroll in the class to learn about child development, then get hands-on experience with the students. Many of the high schoolers who participate in the program hope to work in education, as pediatricians, child psychologists, or even social workers.
“Watching our students connect, teach, and learn alongside our preschoolers is so heart-warming,” said Tracey Parker, Family Consumer Science Teacher, and director of the preschool program. “To my preschoolers, these high school students are truly stars. I see how they connect with these teens. It truly is a win-win for everyone.”
Parker was a student in the program herself at CASH and loved working with the preschoolers when she attended Coatesville Area Senior High School. She has taught the course and directed the preschool for more than 10 years. She says the program has continued to grow since its inception. This year, she was even able to offer some basic swimming lessons to preschoolers with the help of the District’s lifeguarding and swim program.
For the first two months of the school year, high school students enrolled in the class learn about different theories of child development, how to write lesson plans, set up a preschool, care for young children, complete observations of students, and even how to begin to identify potential disabilities. After instruction, collaboration, and mock teaching, students begin working with the preschoolers, under Parker’s direction.
“Ms. Parker and her lovely high school students take such good care of all the littles, and it is their priority to make sure the students feel safe, loved, and uplifted,” said Sami Lynn Stem, a Special Education teacher at the CASH campus whose daughter is enrolled in the program. “The professionalism, education, and direct and active learning my daughter is provided is impressive. She loves going to preschool.”
Crystal Vitale was among the parents who chose to enroll her son in the preschool program for the 3rd year. “I have seen the high school students interact with him in ways that have truly warmed my heart, and believe this program offers meaningful benefits to both the students and the children,” she said. “I can’t say enough positive things about it.”
According to Parker, reviews of the program show the program is particularly good at preparing students for kindergarten.
“One of the things we hear most from parents is how much they appreciate how much one-on-one time their child receives with our student teachers. It helps them in so many ways – socially, emotionally, and with language development.”
For parent Erin Batemen, the proof is in watching her son grow, and come home brimming with new skills. “He brings home creative artwork, has learned how to tell the weather, sound out letters, write his name, perform simple addition & subtraction, and is currently working on reading comprehension,” she said. “Most importantly, he is in a safe and nurturing environment. He is growing in his social skills and learning how to be a good friend and classmate as well.”
Parker says the program maintains a waiting list.
“It is exciting to see how well the program is doing,” she said. “I am very honored to be its director.”