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Dry run gives kindergartners taste of attending class at Fox Chapel's Kerr

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Kerr Elementary School Principal Paul Noro meets with kindergarten children one at a time to welcome them into the school. On right is five year old Vincent Delaney, son of Marion and Brian Delney from O'Hara.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Kerr Elementary School Principal Paul Noro holds hands with Chase Carney as he get his first walk around the school that he will be attending next week. Chase, 5, is the son of Kevin and Lisa Carney from O'Hara.

Before the final days to school counted down this week, kindergartners entering Kerr Elementary were treated to a dry run in the classroom.

The Fox Chapel Area School District piloted a program at the Kittanning Pike school for its youngest students called “Getting to Know You and Your Child.”

The sessions last week gave kindergartners a chance to sit one-on-one with their teacher and acclimate to the classroom.

That's after Principal Paul Noro welcomed them with a creative demonstration with moldable dough.

The new program, to be considered for districtwide implementation in future years, gave teachers and support staff a glimpse into more than whether students know their ABCs.

“These sessions have been very positive in so many aspects,” Noro said. “While we learn so much about the child through our parent-and-child screening interviews, we also start the crucial bond of the parent, child and teacher relationship, which is so critical in the success of any student.”

In the past, the district has not conducted any type of kindergarten screenings, said Bonnie Berzonski, district coordinator of communications. The district's transition team thought starting one would provide teachers an understanding of children's skills, she said.

Children entering each of Kerr's three kindergarten classes were assessed to gauge skills in language, motor skills, self-help development, social and emotional levels. The meetings included teacher-student interaction and parent interviews, used as windows into student personalities.

Teacher Jeannie Cornett recommends the expanded screenings.

“These meetings provided a unique opportunity for both the parents/guardians and teacher to sit down for a conversation regarding their child,” she said.

Students weren't thrown into an unfamiliar environment, and teachers were allowed to learn about the child's development until now.

“Having time to talk over important aspects of a child's development and experiences over the past five years allowed all of us to develop a relationship before the school year even began,” she said.

Noro, who heads the school of more than 400 students, said the bond created at the meet-and-greet is meant to lend a comfort level to young children who are coming into an unfamiliar situation.

“It works for all involved as we begin the journey of learning and relationship building,” he said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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