By LYNN HAMILTON
Thanks to the Clay County CAPE grant to promote literacy and the tireless effort of local individuals and educational groups, almost everyone's educational needs can be fulfilled just a hop, skip and a jump away at the LEAAP Center, 501 E. Jackson St. LEAAP stands for Linking Education to Adults, Adolescents and Preschoolers, and that is exactly what the staff is doing in the former Hook's/Revco building.
Pre-school classes funded by Title I, Special Services, Even Start and CAPE grants started the day after Labor Day. Adult Basic Education and GED preparation classes, offered year round at the site, were moved from the middle modular behind Forest Park Elementary School. These classes are funded through the State Division of Adult Education. Adult Education classes are taught by Diane Jones and Diana Lancaster, with the help of Nancy Nevins.
Preschool speech services held formerly in the old Brazil Junior High School are also provided at this site with speech/language pathologists, Erin Graves and Crystal Webster.
In order to open up office space at the Learning Center, The Step Ahead office with coordinator Caroline McCullough, moved to the LEAAP Center.
Through Title I, Special Services, Even Start, and CAPE funding; LEAAP offers early childhood pre-school for ages 3-4 and 4-5. These classes are held for 2 hours and 15 minutes twice a day. Prekindergarten students attend four mornings or afternoons each week and 3-year-olds attend two mornings or afternoons each week.
Title I pre-school classes have been offered in the city schools for the past several years and are now a part of the LEAAP pre-school classes.
Enrollment at the LEAAP Center is now up to almost 170 pre-school students. Additionally, the LEAAP Center has a southern branch at the library in Clay City with about 25 to 30 pre-school students. Adult Education classes are also offered at this site.
Teachers are Lisa Coughanowr, Kim Edwards (Clay City), Rae Anne Howald, Krissie Pickering, Jennifer Ross, and Cheryl Williams while assistants are Penny Campbell (Clay City), Sandy Frankville, Mandy Hill, Arletta Kellar, Joanie Rissler and Tammy Robison.
According to Mary Yelton, coordinator, the new education standards that have been set for kindergarten make it "very important that children be involved in pre-school," whether at a private pre-school, Head Start or the LEAAP center.
Each of the classes at the LEAAP Center is taught by certified teachers using the "Creative Curriculum," which is based on extensive research of how the human brain functions.
It has been found that most children in the pre-school age group learn best by exploration. Also, if a child's first experience with school is a positive one, it will be easier to learn throughout the rest of his or her education. Through the CAPE grant, early childhood training has been and will continue to be offered to all pre-school teachers and child care providers in Clay County.
While some children still receive special services at Forest Park Elementary, some children now go to LEAAP where special services are provided in the preschool classes says Yelton.
Even Start is a federally funded program in which parents who do not have high school diplomas or need to review basic skills can attend Adult Basic Education/GED preparation classes or the alternative school at Cumberland Academy while their children ages 6 weeks to 7 years old are involved in developmentally appropriate early childhood classes. The parents also have lunch with their children, daily parent education classes and spend PACT (parent and child together) time doing supervised activities with their children in the afternoon.
Monica Wallace is the program's coordinator, while Donna Kaufman is the teacher. Instructional assistants are Robin Crocker and April Mishler.
This program is not the only one in which parents are encouraged to get involved. Parents are always welcome to observe and take part in their children's education at the LEAAP Center as volunteers. When parents take an interest in a child's school activities, they can learn what to do at home to help reinforce their learning and better prepare them for school. Parents' participation in school also sends a message to children about the importance of school and school-related activities.
Yelton says LEAAP will also have distance education available soon. "People will be able to take some classes on-line and participate in two-way video conference courses in the near future."
At present, adult education options at LEAAP include beginning reading and math review for those individuals below 12th grade levels with or without a diploma and GED preparation morning and evening classes.
Anyone interested in taking adult basic education or GED preparation classes or parents who hope to take advantage of the Even Start program must be 16 or older and cannot be currently enrolled in high school.
Other members of the staff include Amanda Mills, secretary, and Mary Lowdermilk, custodian.
Call 812-446-2536 for more information regarding any of the LEAAP programs.