• Apply for preschool in Kalamazoo County

    Posted by Nathalie Alwane on 2/22/2019

    One application for all 2019-2020 early childhood education programs

    Tell your friends: It’s already time to start thinking about preschool for the fall.

    The Kalamazoo County Pre-K application for the 2019-2020 school year is available online beginning Monday, Feb. 18.

    This year, there’s an incentive to let other families know about the application. Families with children currently in an early childhood education program can win gift cards by referring a new family. There’s space on the new application to list a referral.

    Kids Paiting “Pre-K is important, and it plays a huge role in a child’s future success both academically as well as personally,” said Rachel Roberts, principal of the Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program run through the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency, or Kalamazoo RESA.

    “There’s an early childhood education opportunity out there for you and we’ll connect you with whatever that opportunity is.”

    Nearly 1,400 children are enrolled at 70 sites around the county this year in these low- or no-cost preschool programs:

    • Head Start – free, federally-funded preschool for children ages 3 and 4 from families with incomes at the poverty level or below, which is $30,170 for a family of five.
    • Great Start Readiness Program – free, state-funded preschool for children age 4 from families with incomes of up to 250 percent of the poverty level, which is $73,550 for a family of five.
    • Kalamazoo County Ready 4s – tuition-based public and private preschool for children ages 3 and 4. Kalamazoo RESA will connect you with providers and scholarship opportunities.

    Even if you might not qualify for free early education through Head Start or the Great Start Readiness Program, it’s a good idea to fill out the Kalamazoo County Pre-K application online or call 269-250-9333. This one form is used throughout Kalamazoo County for all early childhood education programs.

    The purpose of early childhood education is to help kids get ready for school academically by building early literacy and math skills as well as fine motor skills. It’s also vital to a child’s social and emotional growth and helps them develop healthy school routines and appropriate classroom behavior.

    The structure of preschool was key to getting Joseph Proctor IV ready for kindergarten, said his dad, Joseph Proctor III. And compared to his older brother, who was too old for Head Start when his family moved to Kalamazoo, 5-year-old Joseph entered kindergarten with a better base of reading and math skills.

    “With reading, my oldest son was new to the lettering,” Proctor III said. “My youngest son knew the letters. They recited them (in preschool). He knew the song. When he came into kindergarten he was like, okay, I’m familiar with this.

    3 Kids “If we had another child, I would definitely be, like, yup, Head Start’s the way to go.”

    Here are 10 good reasons your child should attend preschool.

    Plus, preschool is a good way for parents to start getting engaged and involved in their children’s education. Families eligible for Head Start, for example, get assigned a family advocate who can help with a variety of needs that may arise – whether it’s housing, health care or something else.

    Joseph Proctor III had been living without health insurance, paying for medical bills out of pocket or avoiding treatment altogether. Then at one of the Dad’s Nights through Head Start he learned about insurance that was available to him, and he signed up for coverage for the first time in his adult life.

    The timing of that was a blessing, because Proctor III began experiencing severe headaches that resulted in a seizure earlier this year. He’s now getting treatment that he otherwise would not have been able to afford.

    “It almost brought me to tears,” Roberts said. “It’s not just about the child, but it’s about the whole family.”

    Preschool programs start this fall with full-day and half-day programs for both 3- and 4-year-olds. Your child must be 3 or 4 years old on or before Dec. 1 to enroll.

    But even though programs don’t start until this fall, spots fill up quickly so the earlier the better to fill out the application. Call 269-250-9333 with questions.

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  • 3 reasons to check out KRESA open house: ‘Get a real job, get paid, leave school early’

    Posted by Nathalie Alwane on 1/4/2019
    Tyler Mahoney had never been involved in sales and marketing for a real business. He had no hands-on experience in customer service. He had never even created a resume or gone through a job interview.
    After all, he was just a high school kid.
    Now, Tyler has done all of those things. And he’s still in high school.
    Tyler not only is on track to graduate from Gull Lake High School, but he’s also gaining valuable on-the-job experience in the Education for Employment (EFE) program through Kalamazoo RESA. He goes to school for part of the day, then heads off campus for a co-op job on the front desk of a dental practice.
    Tyler “The biggest thing that pushed me towards doing co-op was the fact that I could get a real job, get paid, leave school early and get a lot of experience in the field,” says Tyler, who’s interested in a career in finance and accounting or business management.
    Working at the dental office has taught Tyler about customer service, marketing, sales and even a lot about insurance, billing and dentistry. Another great thing about his co-op experience is that he wasn't just handed the job.
    “I had to write my resume and do an interview,” he said. “Most people my age haven’t done either one of those things, so that also put me ahead of the game.”
    EFE is one of three free programs offered through KRESA, along with Education for the Arts (EFA) and Early/Middle College (ECM). Each program helps students prepare for a promising future.
    KRESA is hosting an open house for Kalamazoo County students and their families to learn about the programs 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the Air Zoo, 6151 Portage Rd. in Portage. Here are the basics:
    • Education for the Arts (EFA) offers arts-intensive courses in theater, film and video, music, dance, literary arts and more.
    • Education for Employment (EFE) offers career and technical education courses to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s careers in nearly 40 fields including software engineering, banking and finance, culinary arts, welding, veterinary science and more.
    • Early/Middle College (EMC) offers students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and associate degree at the same time while dual-enrolled for free at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
    Tyler, who started EFE as a junior in high school, now is a senior dual-enrolled at KVCC through the Early/Middle College program, and he’s still working at the dental office when he doesn’t have classes. That way, one year out of high school Tyler will have his associate degree and three years of experience on the job before he goes on to complete a bachelor’s degree.
    “I highly recommend co-op to high school students because it really does teach you a lot about the field you want to go into, and while doing so you're still getting your high school credits to graduate on time,” Tyler says. “I've got something on my resume and I'm ready for a full-time job after schooling.”
    While EFE is giving Tyler a head start in high school, EFA has given Erin Sullivan a leg up in college. Starting in her junior year of high school, Erin got involved in an EFA program in Film & Video Arts because her school didn’t offer any classes in that field.
    Through the EFA classes, Erin honed technical skills in filming and editing and was surrounded by other students who also were passionate about their art. She looked forward to school every day and was able to create a portfolio of short films that helped her get accepted into film school in Chicago.
    “From day one in the EFA class we had hands-on experience that prepared me for college,” Erin says. “When I got to film school, I found myself ahead of the curve. I’m excelling in my classes since I have already had experience.”
    Middle school and high school students in Kalamazoo County and their parents are invited to the open house. Here are five more reasons to check it out:
    1. You can learn more about innovative educational opportunities designed to get students started toward a successful future
    2. You can meet with instructors to ask specific questions about programs and begin connecting the dots to your future
    3. You can explore opportunities to gain college credit for free while still in high school, saving you money and giving you a head start
    4. You can find your niche by exploring practical programs that build on your interests and put you on the fast track to a promising career
    5. You can discover how KRESA programs fit into your schedule and allow you to still participate in school sports and other extracurricular activities
    In the event of a snow day, the open house will be rescheduled for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Air Zoo.
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