In 2015-2016, The Edmund Hmieleski Early Childhood Center began its seventh year of operation at this location. The school has 27 classrooms divided into 14 dual language classes and 13 general education classrooms. Four of the general education classrooms were also inclusion classrooms with 19 special education students. The Creative Curriculum is the core of our preschool program. This framework rests upon research based theory and developmentally appropriate practice. Our approach involves teachers and families as critical partners in the important work of helping children grow and develop. Attention is given to four developmental areas of learning: social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development. Each classroom has interest areas and a range of supportive materials to provide hands-on opportunities for learning and teaching the whole child. Each child is assessed through Teaching Strategies Gold Developmental Rating as mandated by the Department of Education.
The data gathered throughout the year signaled academic success for the 405 children who entered during this year. The state assessment known as TPOT (Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool) used to measure teaching practices and behavior support services in classrooms was rated at 87% in key practices for the first year of implementation at Hmieleski. The state ECERS 3 assessment had an overall 6.09 for the three early childhood centers combined in Perth Amboy which was a first year review of high quality classrooms using this instrument. The ECERS 3 scores at Hmieleski School ranged from 5.11 to 6.48 indicating in the higher quality range according to the DOE. Finally, the Hmieleski scores in TS Gold Developmental Assessment mandated by the DOE - Early Childhood Division had growth scores from 93% to 99% on Language, Cognitive, Literacy, and Mathematics proficiency from September to May, 2016.
As part of our parent engagement projects, Hmieleski staff invites parents into the classroom for instructional activities throughout the school year. In October, we decorate the school in fall seasonal materials with pumpkins, cornstalks, and celebrate an Octoberfest with parents, staff, and children. Children and parents go pumpkin picking from the school’s garden. In December, parents visit the school for book fairs and reading strategies workshop. Parents attend a nutrition workshop on obesity and sugar use and get recipe books for giveaways and each wing conducts a winter sing along. During the month of February, we collect food for the Food Bank and have Food Puppet presentations in all classes by the Middlesex County Health Department. A dentist comes to school and teaches children how to brush properly and presents them with tooth brushes. In February, the school hosts a spaghetti dinner for parents and children. Our parent engagement project in March highlights our partnership with the United Way and kicks off a 10-week education program called “Abriendo Parents”. The Week of the Young Child takes place in April. The school celebrates with Dress for Success Day, Artsy Tuesday, Mismatched Clothing Day, PJ Fay, and a Literacy Hat Parade with parents lining up along the parade route. In May the students and volunteer parents go to Johnson Park to see the baby animals. The parents attend the student performances of the spring sing along in May. In June, the students and volunteer parents may visit Merrill Park and all four year olds visit the elementary kindergarten classes to assist with the transition from Pre-K to elementary school.
There are many additional highlights that occur each school year. Visitations by administrators throughout the district including the Superintendent, foreign educators and members of the New Jersey Department of Education may come to observe the high quality early childhood classrooms Hmieleski is known for. Scores of opportunities for parents to visit their children and participate with literacy and math activities as part of our “end of study investigations” program are an important component to the success of the program.