Saugerties expands Pre-K program

Zoey Pipitone, a new Per-K student at Mt. Marion Elementary School, shows her mother, Patricia Pipitone, what she likes to do in the multi-sensory tray.

Wednesday, January 23 marked the first day of school for 26 students in the newly expanded Saugerties Central School District Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) program. The expanded program was made possible through a $183,000 grant awarded by the New York State Education Department in November. The funding allowed the district to open a new Pre-K classroom at Riccardi Elementary School and an additional Pre-K classroom at Mt. Marion Elementary School. The District now has a total of five Pre-K classes—two at Cahill Elementary School, two at Mt. Marion and one at Riccardi.

During a parent orientation held at Mt. Marion on Tuesday, Jan. 22, ten four- and five-year-olds confidently walked into the newly renovated classroom. Amanda Bradley, site supervisor of the Saugerties Preschool Program, shared details about drop-off and pick-up procedures, lunches, parent/teacher communications, fire drills, curriculum and nap time. Bradley said kindergarten teachers love that Saugerties is offering this program, because they find that students are better prepared when it’s time to move up to their classes. Teachers don’t need to show the children how to zipper a coat or how to tie a shoe because they’ve already learned how to do those tasks. “Their writing skills, vocabulary and social and emotional skills are more advanced than students who don’t attend Pre-K.”

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Parents Christopher and Patricia Pipitone said they enrolled their twins for two reasons. “We were looking for something consistent and something educational,” said Christopher. “Daycare providers can sometimes be inconsistent and very costly. We have twins and the cost of daycare is almost a mortgage payment,” he joked.

Patricia, a teacher at Grant D. Morse Elementary School, understands the importance of education. “Ideally we wanted our kids to be in an academic situation because the research shows that Pre-K makes a positive difference in a child’s ability to be successful in Kindergarten and later on in life,” she said.

Stay-at-home mother, Marilyn Heinlein, said she and her husband wanted their daughter to attend the Pre-K program not only for academic reasons but for socialization as well. “I want my daughter to meet and play with new friends,” she said, adding that it can be difficult to arrange play dates because everyone is so busy.

The Pre-K classroom at Mt. Marion still has six seats available. For more information on registering a child, contact Interim Superintendent Larry Mautone at (845) 247-6503.

Zarko Pipitone, a new Pre-K student at Mt. Marion Elementary School, shows his father, Christopher Pipitone, some of the toys he found in the new Pre-K classroom.