The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local Schools

September 4, 2012

Clinton preschool paves way for success

Program, in its second year in Clinton, credited for reading, verbal communication gains

CLINTON — To an outsider it might look like Bluff Elementary preschool teachers Denise Bussie and Sara Feldpausch spend their days watching kids play with animal figurines, doll houses and clay.

During an afternoon session, preschool student Wyatt Struve zooms by Bussie with a big red dog.

“Is the dog flying?” Bussie asked her energetic student.

“No, dogs don’t fly,” he replied, before asking para-educator Terry Burkert to help him assemble an animal family with the assortment of figurines laying on the table.   

Preschool Program Coordinator David Bloom watched the short exchange. To Bloom, it was much more than a unremarkable play-time moment.

“Listen to all the language development going on,” he said.

This is the second year for preschool at Bluff Elementary. Students attend either a morning or afternoon session for 2 1/2 hours five days a week. 

Each session can accommodate up to 20 students made up of 4-year-old general education children or 3-year-old special education children. The sessions are lead by two certified teachers, one general education and one special education as well as two para-educators.  

“It’s the start of their formal education,” Bussie said. She and Feldpausch also taught the inaugural year of preschool at Bluff.

“You see them learn and the light bulb goes off,” Feldpausch said.

Last year, the two saw students grow in exciting ways. Some left reading, while others who began the year without verbal interaction left openly communicating with classmates.

The classroom has 10 centers that allow teachers to work one-on-one with students in a variety of activities.  

“This room is structured to provide a lot of adult contact,” Bloom said. Preschool is much more than what appears on the surface, Bloom explained. In addition to developing language, students also develop skills interacting with fellow classmates such as problem solving and imagination building.

 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan links early learning with success throughout life. During a speech at the National Institute for Early Education Research Duncan said the impacts of preschool can reach decades into a person’s life.  

“It helps to lower the rates of remedial education before entering college—and increases the odds of completing college. Literally, decades later, high-quality early learning programs even increase employment rates and earnings,” Duncan said.

Tracy Wey has been a kindergarten teacher for nine years.  She said with the increasing focus on academics in kindergarten, preschool has been advantageous for students and teachers alike.  

“It’s a good stepping stone,” Wey said. “You can tell socially and academically.”

The preschool program at Bluff is one of eight in Clinton including a new program at Jefferson.  The district partners with outside agencies to provide the preschool education to students at no cost.

Bluff Elementary Principal Mark Bloom said he feels fortunate to have the program at his school.

“It’s really added to our climate and culture,” he said. “It’s a positive because kids are getting a mindset for what school is like.”

Parents or guardians who are interested in enrolling their student in preschool can do so through any of the participating programs or by visiting the Clinton School District Administration Center.

Text Only
Local Schools
  • JUST IN: Three interested in Guillory's seat

    Three former board members have inquired about ex-Clinton Community School board member Devin Guillory's seat, according to district business manager Cindy McAleer. Guillory resigned in June after accepting a job in Saudi Arabia and the district has been fielding interest the last two weeks.

    July 2, 2014

  • Survey may impact goals CLINTON — When the Clinton Community School Board meets to reassess its annual goals today, an important process will be at hand, Superintendent Deb Olson said.“I believe it’s important because it kind of sets the vision for the district moving forwa

    June 17, 2014

  • UPDATED: School board names new Clinton High principal

    June 9, 2014

  • UPDATED: District rehires recently terminated teacher

    Melissa Luckritz, who was terminated for budget reasons last month, will teach third grade at Whittier Elementary.

    June 9, 2014

  • Playground dominant Playground hours cut

    CLINTON -- Deb Olson doesn't want anyone to get hurt on Clinton School District property. As the Clinton School District's superintendent, Olson doesan't want criminal activity on the district's property, either. Olson said that because of a few inc

    June 5, 2014 3 Photos

  • CHS principal resigns

    Throughout her 14-year tenure with Clinton Community Schools, "what's best for kids" was Karinne Tharaldson Jones' guiding philosophy.

    On Friday, she told staff one child has become a priority — Liam Jones.

    May 9, 2014

  • BREAKING: CHS Principal informs staff of resignation

    Principal Karinne Tharaldson Jones informed Clinton High, school district she has accepted a position with Bettendorf AEA.

    May 9, 2014

  • 3-28-14 1B-Signees 1 Four for signing day FULTON, Ill. -- Four seniors from Fulton High School will go on to play college athletics next fall, with all four of them staying within a 3-hour traveling distance. Only Matt Dail, who is going to Trinity Christian College in Illinois to play baske

    March 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Schools eye same sports-sharing policy CLINTON -- Since 1982 the state of Iowa has allowed athletic sharing agreements between neighboring school districts and it is anticipated that the Clinton School District will continue to take advantage of that allowance into the 2014-2015 school ye

    March 25, 2014

  • 3-25-14 Clinton Middle School photo Projects shuffled as ground thaws CLINTON -- Progress is moving along at the Clinton Middle School, although contractors feel they may be teetering on the edge of their projected schedule. Unfavorable weather and a brutal winter have delayed some aspects of the project, which was ant

    March 25, 2014 2 Photos