BATESVILLE — A new partnership between two local community leaders in preschool education will provide an aligned curriculum for early learners, announced Southeastern Indiana YMCA Chief Executive Officer Angie Harmeyer and Batesville Community School Corporation Assistant Superintendent Melissa Burton.

As part of an Indiana Department of Education Student Learning Recovery Grant, the Southeastern Indiana YMCA Learning Center will develop a plan to align their math and reading curricula with BCSC’s Little Bulldog Academy, allowing for a seamless transition when YMCA students enroll in BCSC kindergarten.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with the YMCA on this community initiative,” Burton said. “Little Bulldog Academy at Batesville Primary School and the YMCA Learning Center will both be using Amplify’s Core Knowledge Language Arts curriculum, providing deep background knowledge for learning comprehension. With the pandemic having disrupted learning progression for many over the past two years, it’s a great time to align our preschool curricula so parents have familiarity with the programs we use in kindergarten.”

Amplify’s Core Knowledge Language Arts combines the skill development in reading with diverse content knowledge in history, science, literature, and the arts. The intentional approach to background knowledge invites students to dig deeper and make connections across content areas. The CKLA curriculum assists with comprehension by leaning on this broad knowledge base to help students understand complex texts.

“As a community cornerstone for child care, most families in our Learning Center stay with us through the preschool years,” Harmeyer said. “This new partnership sets our students up for a lifetime of academic success by aligning our curriculum with what they’ll see when they enter BCSC kindergarten. We’re excited to be able to work with the school corporation on this new initiative.”

With a portion of the awarded grant, BCSC and the YMCA will purchase the curriculum for Little Bulldog Academy and the YMCA Learning Center, as well as provide teaching materials, training, and equipment to both schools to implement the new language arts program. In addition, detailed preschool math lesson plans on number sense will be developed that link to the math curriculum already in use at BPS.

Besides these kindergarten readiness plans, the IDOE grant also provides funding to address student learning loss and emotional difficulties brought on by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Grant funds will be used to provide additional help to struggling students and ongoing training for BCSC staff regarding social or emotional concerns.

“Students below grade level or students who have been affected emotionally by the abrupt changes from COVID-19—we are putting programs into place to help them succeed,” Burton said. “Success coaches will help those who have fallen behind. Summer school will incorporate STEAM activities from Kids Discovery Factory to engage their minds and fitness units from the Y to keep their bodies active. The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community will provide our staff with training to help students struggling emotionally through the pandemic. We will also contract with a therapist to provide more support to address these issues.

“We are taking a multi-faceted approach to helping our students achieve success through this grant award,” Burton added. “Nearly two years after COVID-19 first started to impact our students, we are still seeing repercussions, both academically and emotionally. We’re going to help those current students and our future ones by ensuring they have the necessary academic and mental health resources to meet their needs.”

The YMCA is excited to be the lead partner with BCSC on this grant, according to Harmeyer.

“Our mission is dedicated to strengthening the foundations of the southeastern Indiana community and developing the potential of kids,” Harmeyer said. “This new aligned curriculum project with BCSC is yet another notable collaboration within the Batesville community which benefits our youth. Besides our healthy lifestyle initiatives, we’re pleased to offer our Y families this new educational opportunity for their preschooler.”

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