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Gwinnett's new Pre-K Pilot Program to fill gaps in early childhood learning

In the past, GCSD only offered pre-K courses as early intervention programs to special education students, but this pilot program is offered to all children.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Gwinnett County School District is offering a new pilot program to prepare kids for early childhood learning.

According to GCSD, 54% of kids in the district are underprepared to enter kindergarten, however, starting in the fall the Pre-K Pilot Program will be used to ensure that children are ready to start learning at the levels that reach “kindergarten readiness.” 

Kim Holland is the GCSD Director of Early Learning & School Readiness and she sees this program as a way to reach out and help the community where there is a clear need. 

“With the pandemic, we've really seen families struggling with being their child's teacher and finding high quality early learning for their child, and so it seemed like the perfect time to get into this pre-K world with a pilot. We are looking really to fill the gap," she said.

In the past, GCSD only offered pre-K courses as early intervention programs to special education students, but this pilot program is offered to all children and will look at “all domains of a child’s development.”

“So it's play-based, lots of hands-on learning," Holland said. "You know, the typical things like letters and numbers, but also how to socialize, how to collaborate, how to play with peers, how to share materials, how to problem-solve with peers, all guided by a certified teacher."

The program will be placed in eight elementary schools in Gwinnett County, which includes Anderson-Livsey, Beaver Ridge, Benefield, Hopkins, Lawrenceville, McKendree, Nesbit, and Norton. Each school will hold two classes with 16 students. 

While most of the students will be placed based on attendance zone through a random digital lottery, some of the class spots will be reserved for children of GCSD staff.

Parents can enroll their children in the lottery on the GCSD website until April 25 at 5 p.m. The lottery will take place on April 27, and families will know if their child has been selected by April 29. However, if a child is not chosen, they will be put on a waitlist in case of spots become open and available. 

Since this is a pilot program, Holland explained that for now, the pre-K classes will only be offered for the 2023-2024 school year. However, depending on its success, there may be plans for more permanence in the future. 

Those who have questions about the Pre-K Pilot Program can contact the Office of Early Learning and School Readiness at gcps.earlylearning@gcpsk12.org

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