Bison Camp . . . Kindergarten Class

Joe Cress, The Sentinel CARLISLE PA — Azmina Palmer really had the knack for ensuring her future classmates walked properly, in good order, down the hallway of LeTort Elementary School.

“She is a very good line leader,” teacher Amanda Rosario said of the 4-year-old Carlisle girl who was enrolled the past two weeks in Bison Camp.

The Bison Foundation sponsored the pre-kindergarten prep camp conducted at LeTort and open to children from throughout the Carlisle Area School District.

“This program is beneficial because it gives the students a preview of what is going to come in kindergarten,” Rosario added. “It really makes them comfortable for the first day of school. That can be nerve-wracking.”

“This program is beneficial because it gives the students a preview of what is going to come in kindergarten,” Rosario added. “It really makes them comfortable for the first day of school. That can be nerve-wracking.”

Rosario was a kindergarten teacher the past five years at Mt. Holly Elementary School. She will transfer this coming year to Crestview Elementary School to teach first-graders.

Daily enrollment varied from 28 to 35 students during the free camp, which ran the first two weeks in August, said Malinda Mikesell, district reading supervisor and Bison Camp director.

Children participating were among the 50 incoming kindergartners whose families were contacted earlier in the year by district administrators, Mikesell said.

The district used the results of tests administered during kindergarten registration in April to identify the 50 children who could benefit the most from Bison Camp, said Jane Boley, the literacy coach at Hamilton Elementary School for the upcoming school year.

The main goal of the camp was to teach the children classroom etiquette that goes with a public school education, Boley said. “Mostly we want them to be better prepared for the routines and what to expect once they get to kindergarten.”

This included lessons on how to raise their hands, take turns, behave in the hallway and sit quietly as they listen to stories. In preparing camp curriculum, Mikesell polled kindergarten teachers throughout the district on desired outcomes.

“Mostly it was to follow directions,” Boley said. “From the first day they attended, we have seen a huge difference in many of the students. It is going to make a big impact for the kindergarten teachers in the district.”

By getting a jump start on the proper behaviors, Bison Campers will be better able to focus on the academic side of being a kindergartner, Rosario said.

Bison Camp students had the chance to practice such basic skills as writing their names, reciting the alphabet and identifying shapes and colors. They also performed music and movement songs.

“It’s fun because you get to draw pictures,” Azmina said of Bison Camp. She especially liked the idea of wearing a different color outfit each day.

“It’s really going well,” Mikesell said earlier this week. “We had a lot of positive feedback from parents. It helped the students understand what it is going to be like in the classroom.”

This was the first year Carlisle school district offered Bison Camp, which, like the foundation, is named after the school mascot. The hope is the foundation would be able to fund Bison Camp in future years, Mikesell said.

The foundation allocated $10,000 for the district to sponsor the eight-day camp. It was used to pay the salaries of Rosario, Boley and four other professionals who taught the pre-kindergarten students.

One of the big goals of Bison Camp was to keep the student-teacher ratio low so that the children have a lot of interaction with their instructors, Mikesell said.

“It was wonderful that the foundation allowed us to do the program,” Rosario said. “We very much appreciate it.”

http://cumberlink.com/news/local/communities/carlisle/camp-prepares-incoming-carlisle-area-school-district-kindergarten-class/article_1d5f0438-23fc-11e4-8ddc-001a4bcf887a.html


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