EUGENE, Mo. - Six years ago, the Eagle's Nest opened its doors, based on the model used by New Bloomfield schools.
It has taken on its own shape under the leadership of Emma Evers, who has been its only director.
This year, they opened a second classroom, allowing them to separate the 3- and 4-year-olds from the 5-year-olds and those preparing for kindergarten readiness.
The curriculum and social skills for a young 3-year-old are generally quite different from that of an older 5-year-old. The two rooms allow all children to have more age-specific attention.
"It feels like now there's a place for everyone," Evers said.
For the 3-year-olds, the physical balance of carrying lunch trays, climbing stairs and using playground equipment might be the major learning goals. Then the teachers can work on sharing with others and fine motor skills, such as scissors control or using glue.
For the pre-kindergarten students, who have been exposed to the school through the preschool already, the teachers focus on suggested state curriculum standards, such as writing one's name and knowing the letters and numbers up to 10.
This year, Evers decided to add math concepts, like the idea of measurement and the idea of time, since they may soon become part of the state's standards for preschool.
"Surprisingly, they are already using it," Evers said.
And they're working on knowing common words by sight and some sound blends.
"It's trial and error right now," Evers said. "They're doing well with it.
"This has opened my eyes to "this is possible,'" Evers said.
Perhaps preschoolers are underestimated.
"It's amazing what some of them can do," she noted. "Some of them are just sponges."
When Evers completed her elementary education degree, she wasn't expecting to teach preschool.
But her first job at the Immanuel Lutheran School preschool in Honey Creek helped her "fall in love" with the idea.
"You experience a lot of firsts - their first teacher, first bus ride, first field trip, first class play ..." Evers said.
"There's an excitement and passion they have for it."
As a Cole R-5 alumna, Evers said she saw the Eagle's Nest opening as a "great opportunity."
The preschool has been a help to kindergarten teachers, who spend less time on basic tasks, like showing students how to open milk cartons and locating silverware in the lunchroom.
The preschool teachers also can provide insight into the student's strengths and weaknesses as they enter their new classroom.
The preschool educators also work closely with the Parents As Teachers program, which focuses on individual development and family education.
"What we see in preschool is not an indicator for life," Evers said. "You never give up; I'm a strong believer that not every person learns in the same way."
Evers said she believes offering the preschool in the same building where the students will continue their education helps them get an early foundation.
They go to the assemblies with the older students and they have art, music and physical education time.
At the end of March, they even will host their own class play, "The Little Red Hen."
"We do everything normal classes do," Evers said.
Want to enroll?
Eagle's Nest Preschool at Cole R-5 has enrollment open for the 2013-14 school year. Call (573) 498-4037 ext. 1065, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.