School offers earlier start

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Stephanie Miller, 25, prepared her classroom Wednesday at Clovis Christian Elementary School for the first prekindergarten class by cutting up letters for bulletin boards and rearranging furniture.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ Staff Writer

Stephanie Miller sat at her desk in her near-empty classroom cutting oversized yellow and black laminated letters. She admitted she was nervous about her first teaching job.

Miller, 25, was hired to teach Clovis Christian Elementary School’s newest program, a prekindergarten class.

“I’m really excited and a little nervous. I’m in a new area with new people, but I’m ready to get my experience,” Miller said.

Miller earned her master’s degree in elementary education from Texas Tech a year ago and said she’s ready for the real thing.

“It’s hard to get your foot in the door some places. I feel very blessed to have this job,” Miller said.

The new prekindergarten program has four students so far, but Elementary Principal Colleen Laumbach said she has high hopes to draw 15 to 20 students by the time school opens Aug. 18. She also plans to add an assistant.

“I get calls about the pre-K everyday,” Laumbach said.

Laumbach said the school had received requests in the past to start a pre-K program. And with the opening of the new elementary school, the school felt it was an opportune time to add the program.

Laumbach stressed the importance of a pre-K class for 4 year olds.

“It prepares them physically, socially and academically. It’s important that they have a good start,” the principal said.

Miller agreed.

“It helps at the foundation. It’s getting them ready for kindergarten, getting used to the routine, getting used to getting up. It’s about making them accountable for their day, in a way,” she said.

Miller said that prekindergarten is similar to kindergarten but keyed down.

“They learn many of the same things,” she said. “A lot of it is through play.”

Miller said her students will learn the general routines of school such as how to raise their hand, when to sit and be quiet, and how to share. The students will also learn letter awareness, basic writing skills, listening skills, how to count and phonics.