A hidden gem found within Beaver Dam Elementary School is the three-year-old preschool program. In a creative and colorful room cozily located in a quiet corner of the Eagles’ Nest, children are constantly engaged in play, learning, and developing social skills. Although it’s a full-day preschool, the daily activities are so varied and fun that the eaglets find it is time to go home before they know it!
The learning is orchestrated under the competent direction of Mrs. Savanna Gonzales and her aide, Miss Isela Zarate. Both ladies come highly qualified. Mrs. Gonzales received her B.A. from UNLV in elementary education. She received her early childhood endorsement after working with the Head Start program in Idaho for over four years. Miss Zarate received her degree in special education from SUU. She is fluent in both Spanish and English, making the transition from home to school for Spanish-speaking students quite easy. Both teachers are energetic and patient, two qualities necessary to build a positive learning environment for the little ones.
The class consists of twelve lucky students. The ratio of teacher to student cannot be more than 1 to 9. The state of Arizona funds the preschool program through taxes on tobacco. Funding includes full transportation and all educational services including screening for speech, special education, or medical concerns. Children are provided with breakfast and lunch from Miss Susan’s Restaurant and given snacks during the school day.
The classroom is a perfect setting for the children to explore, develop friendships, and become comfortable in a school setting. Various centers are provided where students can spend one-third of the day selecting free choice activities. They can dress up in the dramatic play area, pretend to be a shop keeper at the post office or hot cocoa café, display artistic skills through painting, drawing, or using play dough at the art center, use action heroes or dinosaurs to interact in imaginative play, or use blocks to build secret forts. Structured instruction includes puppet plays, music, dancing, and reading readiness. Students are taught the letters of the alphabet and their sounds as well as being exposed to books and daily story time. The routines promote social and emotional skills. Each child is treated as an individual and encouraged to discover independent success in learning.
Should any reader wish to look into the possibility of enrolling a child in the Beaver Dam Preschool or have any questions about this remarkable program, they are encouraged to call office manager Mrs. Salud Martinez at 928-347-5796. The preschool children are the newly hatched and greatly cherished of the flock that makes up Beaver Dam’s Eagles Nest.