Williams Elementary-Middle School teachers gear up for KinderCamp

Coconino County Public Health Employee Sharon Stifling (right) teaches upcoming Williams Elementary School kindergarteners about nutrition during the 2015 KinderCamp. Wendy Howell/WGCN

Coconino County Public Health Employee Sharon Stifling (right) teaches upcoming Williams Elementary School kindergarteners about nutrition during the 2015 KinderCamp. Wendy Howell/WGCN

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Most teachers are winding down the school year and making vacation plans, but a few teachers at Williams Elementary-Middle School (WEMS) are gearing up for a month of learning and fun this June with KinderCamp.

KinderCamp is an early intervention pre-school program for incoming kindergarteners. It is a targeted program with a goal of encouraging successful transitions into kindergarten for children and families. It provides opportunities for children to learn in rich, stable, growth-producing learning environments.

"This has been a successful program and we often see significant gains in just a one-month period of time," said WEMS Principal Carissa Morrison.

This is the fourth year Williams Unified School District has offered KinderCamp. Registrations are being taken now and the classes will last four weeks. Classes begin June 6 and end June 30 and take place Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon.

"We've aligned it with our summer school to coordinate transportation," Morrison said.

The program is taught by certified teachers who expose students to the classroom experience and provide direct instruction of basic concepts of reading and math. It gives students the opportunity to build skills that support learning, such as following directions, taking turns, learning with other children and learning by manipulating, investigating and asking questions.

"We see them writing their name and learning their sounds by the end of the program," Morrison said. "We see measurable growth."

Morrison was concerned about funding for the WEMS KinderCamp this year since the previous grant ended last year.

"We are excited to find support from Matt Ryan and the Coconino County Supervisors Office, the Williams Kiwanis, the PTSA and the United Way," Morrison said. "And we have been in contact with other local organizations that may help too."

Morrison said the heart of the program is Zoophonics, which is a fun way to learn letters and sounds. The program uses body and shapes and movement to learn the letter sounds.

Although KinderCamp is an academic program, it includes fun days too. The children will have a Big Rigs Day with the Police and Fire Departments, a day with the tooth fairy and a day where they meet Smokey the Bear and a visit to Bearizona.

The program is open to all incoming kindergartners at WEMS. Morrison said the program is especially helpful for families that live rurally or who haven't had a preschool or Headstart experience.

Currently, there is not a pre-school program offered for the general population in Williams outside of Head Start, which is offered based on income level.

The program is first-come, first-serve for students enrolling at WEMS. There will be a parent meeting June 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the WEMS cafeteria. Anyone interested in learning more about the KinderCamp program may attend or can call (928)635-4428.

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