The public got its first look at the Colusa County Office of Education’s new Preschool Academy on Thursday.
Visitors got a glimpse of peg-board puzzles, blocks, balls and other toys in action, along with books about numbers, farm animals and people.
Three-year-old Cyrus Stoots, the academy’s first student, happily showed potential classmates the ropes Thursday, when county officials called upon the Colusa County Chamber of Commerce to help with the program’s official launch.
The preschool has been open since January.
“It’s fun,” Cyrus said. “We learned about trees.”
The preschool, which also has extended childcare, is the Office of Education’s first for young children whose families do not qualify for state-funded preschool or Head Start, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“It is important to have high-quality preschool for everyone in the county,” said Vicki Markss, Director of Children’s Services. “Young children are our future and each and every child deserves a quality education.”
Prior to the Preschool Academy’s opening, the Office of Education only operated subsidized preschools in each of the county’s school districts, Markss said.
Much of the materials at the academy are geared to jump-start children ages three to five on a successful path to kindergarten, although the new school can take tots as young as 33 months.
Cyrus’ mother, Marya Stoots, said she has seen a remarkable change in her son since he moved from a home daycare environment to the Preschool Academy.
“He’s picked up so much with an all-day curriculum,” Stoots said. “The teachers are absolutely amazing. He’s excited to come to school and happy when I pick him up.”
Stoots said much of evening time is spent with Cyrus happily chatting about what he did and learned at school.
The Preschool Academy is licensed for 24 children, and county officials are actively enrolling.
At the same time, the county is looking for additional qualified teachers.
“I love it,” said Jen Troche, lead teacher and preschool director. “It’s been a good experience. I can’t wait to have more students.”
Mike West, Colusa County superintendent of schools, is proud of the “Footsteps2 Brilliance” campaign, a breakthrough early learning solution that helps preschool and other young children become proficient readers by third grade.
But the Preschool Academy is also an income-generating operation to help the Education Village become more self-sufficient, he said.
Students are provided lunch from The Bistro, which is also open to the public as an income-generating business.
Preschool and childcare at the academy varies according to how many days and hours in each day a child participates.
The academy also has drop-in rates, Markss said.
The Preschool Academy is located at 499 Marguerite St., Williams.
More information is available by calling 530-473-1350, ext. 10376 or www.ccoe.net.