Amber Wilson is the Early Childhood Coordinator for the Benzie Central and Frankfort-Elberta Schools.
The Benzie Early Childhood Programs are licensed and four-star rated by the State of Michigan.  As illustrated by Amber's PowerPoint presentation, the programs provide high-quality preschool experiences for 88 children from 6 weeks to five years old.  The classrooms are supported by Early Childhood Specialists, and all 23 staff members go through at least 24 hours of professional development each year.  Classrooms utilize Creative Curriculum to support learning and development with a whole-child approach.
Generous grants been particularly helpful, providing--
  • Free preschool for all interested four-year-olds for the past two years
  • Travel to the Michigan AEYC conference for all the staff
  • Staff wage increases
  • Financial support for staff advancing their degrees
Activities at Lake Ann Elementary have included six weeks of study covering roads, clothing and water, as well as a class field trip to Nugent Orchards.  Families have been invited to the classroom for celebrations, and a family game night is being planned.
The Strong Beginnings Classroom at Crystal Lake Elementary has been studying trees, turkeys and snow.   The class has been practicing how to count to 10 in Spanish and to 20 in English.
Outside the classroom there are playgroups involving the Betsie Valley District Librarian and weekly summer playgroups at Thompsonville Skate Park. With regard to Special Education there are supporting teachers and students within the classrooms, and work is under way on systems of support throughout the district.  An impressive operation!