Cassville PAT, Kinder Academy numbers spike

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Asbill: ‘We are focusing on the right improvement efforts’

The Cassville school district has put a heavy focus on early childhood development in the last few years, and the numbers are steadily increasing.

Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent, said the focus on early childhood has been well received by the community.

“We understand the importance of early childhood development and that goal aligning to a very specific need is evidence that we are focusing on the right improvement efforts,” he said. “The second part of that is, one Kinder Academy staff, our preschool staff, and our PAT, [Parents as Teachers], staff are doing a phenomenal job of engaging our families. When our families are engaged, that kind of relationship travels.

“PAT numbers have doubled from 34 last year to 78 this year,” he said. “The Kinder Academy numbers also doubled from 12 to 29.”

Asbill said for PAT, each participant gets a certain number of visits, and that number has tripled.

Asbill said he wants people to know that early childhood is a focus for the Cassville school district and there are people who are willing to help.

“If that improves or helps someone decide that Cassville is the community for them, then they should have a clear vision that this is where we want them to be, and we have the vision and goal to take care of them,” he said.

Asbill said the school district has had a PAT program for many years.

“Linda Marple ran that program for many years,” he said. “The funding for PAT is still significantly reduced from where it used to be, so PAT took a state funding reduction several years ago and we were running PAT as a part-time program.”

Asbill said the district saw that that did not align well with the focus the district puts on early childhood.

“So, we made a commitment to put that back to a full-time program,” he said. “We have Nola Nickols, who was one of our intermediate teachers, express interest in taking that program on, and last year was her first full time year with PAT.”

Asbill said Nickols has done a fantastic job reaching out to parents and developing a great program.

“You have to have the right person to engage and reach out,” he said. “When that happens, you really start to see the success of a program.”

Asbill said Kinder Academy is a new program for the Cassville school district.

“We already have two teachers and we are expanding on that program a bit,” he said. “We are excited about it, and we will see opportunities for immediate growth in those students as they go into kindergarten and first grade.

“But, what we hope to see is in three or four years from now is some increased success in literacy and our educational involvement in our students and parents from that experience.”

Asbill said the program began during the 2017-2018 school year.

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