McNary Heights Elementary starts kindergarten jump start program

<p>Kindergarten Jump Start</p>

Kindergarten Jump Start

Soon to be kindergarten students in Umatilla are getting a head start on their education thanks to a new program at McNary Heights Elementary School.

Educators say with the new educational standards in Oregon, it is more important now than ever before to make sure students start learning as early as possible.

And thanks to a grant from the state, teachers in Umatilla can give young students the tools they need to be ready to succeed right away.

Corinne Funderburk has been teaching at McNary Heights Elementary School in Umatilla for more than 20 years, and says she's seen first hand how students can fall behind.

"A lot of them are just trying to play catch up each year" said Funderburk.

Add to that, the recently increased educational requirements from the state, and teachers really start to feel the pressure in the classroom.

"Yeah, it's very stressful and I teach fourth grade usually, and it's very stressful with the increased demands that these students have to have" said Funderburk.

But a change is being made in Umatilla to help students, thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation.

McNary Heights started a kindergarten jump start program - which began today, to help prepare new students for the educational expectations ahead when they start school.

"Traditionally, when you and I went through kindergarten, learning your shapes: square, circle, rectangle, was what was needed. Now, they need to know that that square has four equal sides and has four vertices" said Bob Lorence, McNary Heights Elementary School principal.

During the program - which lasts three weeks, students will also learn number recognition, colors, and how to write their name.

The soon to be kindergartners will also learn some social skills as they run around on the playground each day.

"It's gonna help them get ready, and those kids that are not ready, hopefully, get them there. And I'm just really glad that they're doing this, and I really like it. I'm excited for my son to be in this program" said Nancy Coria, parent.

And teachers say they're excited too.

They're hopeful this new program will give students the jump start they need to stay on top of their studies as they grow up.

"The kids are trying very hard, and so I'm looking forward to having this opportunity for these kinders being able to just come more ready to school, so that as they go through each grade level, hopefully, that will help them that much more, and be more of a benefit to them and to the teachers as well" said Funderburk.

Even though the Umatilla School District got a grant to help start the kindergarten jump start program, the district is funding part of the program too.

Right now, 40 students are enrolled in the program - that's about half of the number of students registered for kindergarten next school year at McNary Heights.

If you're interested in having your child attend the program, the school is still accepting students.