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Itty Bitty Blue Devils
SHS students get experience in early childhood education
Statesboro High Early Childhood Education teacher Rosanna Ward, background, peeks in as high school student Tim Taylor, right, has some LEGO fun with Pre-K student Zavian Taylor. After spending a year in the classroom, second-year ECE students like Taylor were finally introduced to the Pre-K classroom this week. (Herald Staff photo/Scott Bryant)

Day two of the new school year proved to be a big one for some Statesboro High School Early Childhood Education students. Third-year students met their new crop of pre-K students, while most second-year students got to experience life in a pre-K classroom for the first time.

ECE is one of the many pathways available in the Career Technical Agricultural Education (CTAE) program at Statesboro High. ECE teacher Rosanna Ward is taking over the program from long-time instructor Kristen Rogers and was inspired to apply for the job after having a child in the Statesboro High pre-K program.

Many students who participate in the pathway are interested in eventually becoming teachers, but the program is beneficial to anyone who wants to work with children in any capacity, including daycare, coaching and even parenthood, according to Ward and Rogers.

Statesboro High pre-K lead teacher Donna Crosby offers her 16 years of experience in pre-K education to the pathway students. Having to wear many hats is a hallmark of being a pre-K teacher.

“We have to do it all. A teacher. A counselor. A nurse. And sometimes you have to be a mama,” said Crosby, as she cradled a sleepy pre-K student who was struggling to make the transition from naptime.

The ECE pathway is a three-year program, with year one being spent entirely in the classroom with students learning the procedures and science behind early childhood behavior and development. Year two introduces students into the pre-K classroom. After an initial meeting between high school and pre-K students, all at one time, pathway students rotate between classroom work and continuing hands-on experience once a week.

Third-year students continue classroom work and time in the pre-K classroom, but they are also offered opportunities to work outside the school at daycare and pre-K programs in the community.

While it officially became a Georgia pre-K in 2015, the Statesboro High pre-K program has been going strong since the late 1980s and offers what Crosby, Ward and Rogers believe is a unique experience because of how the Statesboro High School community embraces the pre-K students as their own.

“It’s officially the Statesboro High pre-K, but I call them the Itty Bitty Blue Devils,” says Crosby.

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