River Valley Offers High Quality Preschool, Utilizes SHIP Early Childhood funds

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River Valley Preschool, located in the River Valley Elementary School in Washta, Iowa, recently completed another year of quality preschool. As a District participating in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for 4-Year Olds, the program completed their first QPPS (Quality Preschool Program Standards) verification visit this year (passing with flying colors). The program was also praised by an AEA consultant at the May School Board meeting for having “outstanding staff and an “award-winning preschool program”.

The program also held their annual preschool registration family night in April with a free supper and activities for families with young children ready to attend preschool in the fall. “We gambled on having this event on a night that also had track and golf meets, and hoped for a good attendance,” comment Principal Deb Bagenstos. “We had a very good crowd including fathers, grandparents and other extended family members. The crowd showed us by their attendance that they valued preschool above the other activities. That is the change in the culture of our District that has been amazing to see – the perception of preschool transformed from that of a “glorified daycare experience” to one of setting a child up for a very successful future in school and in life.”

River Valley Preschool received $7,000 from SHIP for the 2011-12 school year. These Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) funds are distributed to the preschool to help pay for tuition and transportation for low income children. This year, these funds were distributed to twelve 3-year-old children and five 4-year-old children.

“It was certainly a year of wonderful happenings for students and for the staff,” Bagenstos continued, “We had opportunities to grow in multiple and excessive ways, and for the District to have such high honors given to them for our high quality (and now highly recognized) preschool program! We have offered to help any District who may want help improving their program or to prepare for their site visit from the state for the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program.

The bottom line is that River Valley Preschool is where it is because of all the financial and educational and professional help that we have received from Siouxland Human Investment Partnership throughout our history of existence. Our District would’ve had to abandon the program years ago without the financial support given to us through this agency. In the later years, the professional development and the program help offered through inspections done by the visiting nurse have further defined our program. In conclusion, I cannot thank SHIP and Early Childhood Iowa enough for recognizing that small rural districts have multiple issues and needs and for keeping the funding and the opportunities as fairly distributed as possible.”

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