Creepy crafts…Education student Sophie Moman-Rawden teaches preschoolers how to make a freaky frankenstein craft.
Creepy crafts…Education student Sophie Moman-Rawden teaches preschoolers how to make a freaky frankenstein craft.
Harper Wilkins

High school students, pre-kindergarteners benefit from common location

FAIRHOPE, Ala.- A multi-purpose preschool program housed right in the middle of a high school campus might seem unusual, yet that’s what’s happening at Fairhope High School. While using a lottery process for acceptance,the program is a coveted one by Fairhope area parents.

Backpacks on… Preschoolers patiently wait to receive their Halloween candy from Orfanello’s Education and Training class. (Harper Wilkins)

“They just put everyone’s name in a bucket and they do a random draw… kinda cool it was filmed live, so my family cheered when my son’s name got drawn like we just got a touchdown,” said Missy Jones, former pre-k parent.

Run much like other preschools in Baldwin County, these pre-k students get something extra- a helping hand from FHS students. Children experience one-on-one time with students in the  Education and Training, Teaching I and Teaching II classes, an advantage for pre-kindergarteners as well as for students, only possible because they are stationed in the high school building.

“Our program is unique because of the hands-on time spent with the preschoolers. Not only do our students get a touch of what teaching is like, but they can learn the kids and their personalities well,” said Elizabeth Orfanello, Education and Training teacher.

Orfanello’s class is offered to students in grades 10-12 as an elective. To complete the program, students must take Education and Training in sophomore year, Teaching I in junior year, and Teaching II in senior year. Each year progresses with new information and experiences for students to get a feel of what working in a classroom is actually like. 

“Kids at that age are so innocent and they haven’t had a chance to be judgemental, so I believe they are the perfect age for high schoolers to interact with,” Orfanello said. Students visit the preschoolers Friday throughout the day based on their teaching elective class period. 

Offering valuable experiences for both high school and preschool students, the class creates an atmosphere where bonds form while learning takes place.

Witch on the loose… Asher Wilson shows off his spooky gear during craft time. (Harper Wilkins)

“We are learning from them just as much as they are learning from us, and as a teacher, it is inspiring to see my students develop such sweet relationships with these younger kids,” Orfanello said. 

Aside from the regular curriculum, Orfanello’s teaching classes allow for organized activities her students lead with the pre-k throughout an entire school year, including paper crafts, pumpkin carving and creating educational sing-alongs. 

Students enjoy watching the pre-k kids grow up over a year’s time and are often sad when they leave to start their kindergarten careers. Students who are not a part of the education and teaching classes also find that the pre-k offers a fresh perspective into the everyday life of high school. 

“These little angels are the highlight of the day when they prance through the halls proudly showing their new backpacks and shoes and being an example of how everyone should approach the school day with an open mind, ready to learn,” said senior Brinly Baugass.

Housing the pre-k program in the high school has furthered learning for two totally different age groups. The two-way learning environment for pre-k children to form relationships with mentors and for students to learn their way around the classroom takes education and teaching classes to a whole new level.

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About the Contributor
Harper Wilkins, reporter
Sophomore staffer Harper Wilkins was born and raised in Fairhope and wouldn't change it for the world. Growing up, English was always something she enjoyed; throughout elementary school, she was given weird looks for being the 9-year old student who was actually excited to write an essay. Years later, she is a reporter for “The Pirateer.” She is also a member of Operation Jubilee and loves working with the sweet kids in the program. Outside of school, she enjoys hanging out with friends or going to the beach. She is beyond excited for this upcoming year in journalism and can't wait to deliver the latest news.