Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adding the Kindergarten

The daughter of a friend of mine just finished a year in the "More at Four" program at our local school. Last Sunday at church I was in the nursery with her and wow, what a kid. I had not had any contact with her for over a year, so her change in maturity and school prepared-ness amazed me. Is she ever ready for school!

The children at Pilot Mountain Schoolhouse had no such program to prepare them academically. They came to school one day the spring before their first grade year with an older brother or sister or cousin and sat through lessons. That was it.

Until the federal government stepped in.

First there was Head Start, designed to, in President Lyndon Johnson's words, "rescue these children from the clutches of poverty which otherwise could grip them all their lives and will put them on an even footing with their classmates as they enter school."

That was a summer program, not much of a head start, but more than they had before.

The biggest impact came from the federal kindergarten program. North Carolina at that time had no kindergarten paid with state money, only a few city systems forked over the money for this unproven expense. In 1968 a kindergarten program started at Pilot Mountain, complete with a teacher, teacher assistant and a bathtub in the room. Today a bathtub in the room conveys a comfy aura of children relaxing with pillows and library books. Life was different then. The bathtub was for washing children. (And also for a temporary home for ducks at Easter.)

The kindergarten closed before the school did and for the most glorious of all reasons.

The school lost its federal funding.

The income level in the community rose too far above the poverty level. Major. Accomplishment.

Catch of the day,



  1. Both this post and the previous one were quite interesting. Oh the place you go--for research!

  2. Sometimes we get so comfortable in the present that we don't realize what brought us here. I've interviewed many people who graduated from the eleventh grade and one in that first kindergarten class, both ends of the spectrum. Talk about the places you go for research, I've been invited into lots of homes to talk to people. Meeting them in their personal comfort zone works as long as they look at me as a potential friend rather than an invader. I do most of the interviews at the school to use visual clues to jog their memories.