It’s hard to believe we are soon to be trading in trips to the pool for backpacks and lunchboxes, but the start of school is upon us—MNPS will begin the school year in just a few short weeks on August 6th. For those of us with children who are four years old by August 15th, MNPS is offering a very exciting early education option with three new Nashville Public Pre-K Early Learning Centers which offer full day (8am-3pm) instruction and are available at no cost to any resident of Davidson County. As with other MNPS schools, breakfast and lunch is provided to all students at no cost. Additionally, before and after care will be available for a fee.
Historically, Pre K Classrooms in Metro Nashville Public Schools were only housed within some elementary schools. These classrooms primarily existed to serve a higher needs population—depending on the classroom funding source, either children deemed at risk developmentally or lower income families. There were a select few spots offered for a fee to any family who wished to attend, but these spots could be difficult to secure.
Earlier this year, MNPS named Lisa Wiltshire the Director of Early Learning Innovation, and she announced the district’s bold initiative to offer high quality Nashville Public Pre-K instruction to all Nashville children who want or need it by 2018. This upcoming school year will see the opening of the first three Model Early Learning Centers at Ross, Bordeaux, and Casa Azafran. MNPS has recognized that expanding Pre K is not enough and is investing heavily in this new program, partnering with Vanderbilt University to develop a curriculum rooted in play, experimentation, and discovery. Much more about the program and the leadership team at each school can be found on MNPS’ blog, or by following the links above.
My husband and I had started down the Pre K path attempting to enroll in a fee-based classroom at the zoned elementary school where our son will attend kindergarten in 2015. We then learned of the Early Learning Centers and hesitantly accepted a position at Ross. We felt nervous both about sending our son to a full-day, five day per week program before we have to do so—especially a brand new program we knew little about, to boot. Just this week, I had the opportunity to meet with the Director of the Ross Early Learning Center, Ms. Laura Bilbrey, and some of her team. Any trepidation that we felt was completely wiped away. There are so many exciting things happening in these centers, and the staff is well-equipped to help all students build a foundation in academic skills while focusing on experience, discovery, and play. The commitment to these principles was apparent.
Shockingly, there are still spots available, but they are expected to fill quickly after the start of school. If you are interested in learning more, staff is on site at the three centers each day, and they are welcoming and happy to meet with families. If you are sold, and just want to apply, review the MNPS Pre K Application Process, gather a few forms, and head over to the school you wish to attend. Once you turn in paperwork, your child will also undergo a short readiness screening, and you too will be part of a cutting edge change in early childhood education!
Christine is a born and raised Nashvillian who, after a few attempts to move away, returned to her hometown for good in 2012. She and her husband (Matt) along with their two children (Max, 4 and Nora Cate, 1) and two dogs (Tipper & Riley) live in Inglewood. Between kid-raising and dog-wrangling, she currently serves as the MOMS Club of East Nashville – Eastwood Chapter President as well as working part-time as a campaign consultant. Christine and Matt love spending time with their kids (and sometimes dogs) at the many wonderful parks & greenways throughout Nashville. In her (sparse) personal time, Christine loves reading, running, cooking, gardening, and being crafty around the house. It is her lifelong dream to have chickens and build a treehouse.