FORT HOOD — Her first day on the job as a full-fledged teacher, Dailene Brown sat with her 3-year-old students on a rug for “carpet time.”
On Monday, the first day of school for Brown’s prekindergarten students and for Killeen Independent School District’s fledgling program for 3-year-olds, the new teacher taught her new students the signs for “yes” and “no.”
As the children at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary School at Fort Hood made the “yes” sign with their hands, Brown said, “Yes, I’m ready to learn.”
Killeen ISD’s seven elementary schools at Fort Hood started back to school after a five-day Thanksgiving holiday, welcoming in its youngest students.
Todd Kunders, Hobby principal, said the first day of prekindergarten for 3-year-olds went extremely smoothly.
The campus at West Fort Hood began the new program with four classes.
The district is offering full-day prekindergarten for children who live on post and who turned 3 by Sept. 1 at Hobby, Montague Village, Clear Creek, Venable Village, Meadows, Clarke and Duncan elementary schools.
Registration continues at each campus. Fort Hood parents who wish to register their child in school should go to the campus in their attendance zone.
For Brown, her first day teaching should be a memorable one. “It’s crazy. I was nervous at first,” she said. “It’s fun. I love being with the little ones. They are actually a lot calmer than I expected.”
Only one of her 11 students had been in school before and a few had never been away from their parents. “The goal today is to be comfortable at school,” she said.
The 3-year-old prekindergarten students ate breakfast and lunch in their classrooms and had a naptime scheduled.
In Brown’s class, the children learned about the restroom in the classroom, their own cubbies, a variety of learning stations and school essentials like raising your hand and sitting together on a carpet.
Much of the curriculum, the teacher said, is play-based. “Three-year-olds are smart and they’ll pick it up. I have high expectations. We will mix it up as I get to know them.”
The district’s board of trustees unanimously voted in October to partner with Fort Hood to create the program for 3-year-olds.
The capacity to host the program at Fort Hood is partially the result of low enrollment at the district’s on-post schools. Recent data showed the district saw a more than 600-student decrease in those campuses from the previous school year.
“We’ve seen a considerable decrease in enrollment on these campuses, so we have the room,” said Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller.
The prekindergarten 3-year-old program on post will run in addition to prekindergarten classes the district operates for 4-year-old children at other campuses, both on and off post.
To register, parents should visit the schools that are offering the program.