Pathway to K and Pathway to One
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
JULY 17, 2019 – In one classroom at Old Town Elementary, children participating in the Pathway to K program were having a snack.
One little boy laid out his cookies and counted them – “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.”
Great work, said the teachers.
Asked whether he was going to eat them all, the boy said, no, he was going to take them home and share them with his family.
In another classroom, students were bowling. After each roll, they would count each pin that they had knocked over as they set the pins back up.
In another classroom, students in the Pathway to One program were working as teams of three to stack red plastic cups so that the cups formed pyramids. They couldn’t touch the cups directly. They could move the cups only by using an elastic band with three arms to encircle each cup and move it into place.
So teamwork was the only way to make it happen.
On a table nearby were construction-paper emus that students had made after reading Edward the Emu.
Elizabeth Noell, who teaches kindergarten at Sedge Garden Elementary, is the Program Director for Pathway to One.
“Our goal is for children to have a program that sustains the learning they have acquired in kindergarten through the summer and assist the students who need that help in phonological awareness,” Noell said.
“In order to be read, you must learn the sounds first.”
The emphasis on that and other learning tools helps students become more proficient readers.
Miranda Rich is the Program Director for Pathway to K.
“My goal is to make sure the children in the program are ready for kindergarten,” Rich said. “I am very excited about our program.”
She likes watching the students grow.
“When they leave our program, they are filled with so much knowledge,” Rich said.
After teaching at Petree Elementary, Rich is heading to the Career Center to teach the Early Childhood Education class in the CTE (Career Technical Education) program.
The Pathway to K and Pathway to One programs also include a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), problem-solving activities, building their skills as listeners, enhancing their self-esteem, and much more.
Yunuen Salinas, who is a second-grade bilingual teacher at Old Town during the regular school year, especially likes watching the students learn to work together.
“I like to see the collaboration that they learn,” Salinas said. “That will help them when they move up to first grade.”
This year, classes in both programs started on July 8 and will continue through July 31.
With 240 students, Pathway to One is operating at capacity this summer.
The capacity for Pathway to K was also planned at 240 students. So many students applied, though, that arrangements were made to increase the capacity to 300 students.
Each program has 20-plus teachers and another 20-plus teacher assistants. Class sizes are being kept small, with the goal of one teacher for every five students.
One of the purposes of both programs, Noell said, is to support parents in any way they can. Parents are encouraged to ask questions.
“We are learning as we go what families want,” Noell said.
The programs also have seven family engagement coordinators who work with families. Get-togethers for families are held each Tuesday night, and activities for families are sometimes planned at the end of the school day.
Money for Pathway to K and Pathway to One comes from Project Impact, a community initiative created to provide additional operating funds to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools so the system could address critical gaps in student achievement. It has paid for the programs since the beginning.
2016 was the first year for the Pathway to K program, which was organized locally. The idea for Pathway to K grew out of the Ready Schools committee of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and from conversations members had with people throughout the community, including people associated with The Forsyth Promise, a community organization that supports the goal of “the best educational outcomes for children in Forsyth County.”
In 2018, the Pathway to One program was added for students who had completed kindergarten and could use an additional boost on their way to first grade. In addition to serving students who need additional practice to become more proficient readers, it includes specially designed lessons in literacy, math, science investigation, and health and physical education that improve students’ skills in all areas of learning.
The programs have grown. This year, the Pathway programs are being held at nine Winston-Salem/Forsyth County elementary schools.
In previous years, families had to find their own transportation to the schools. This year, students in the program can ride buses to and from the schools.
Vanessa Osborne, the school system’s Transitions Coordinator, was responsible for organizing transportation. With it being the first year and with the schools being scattered around the county, there were logistical challenges, she said.
Most of the schools serving as hosts for the programs are also schools that provide free summer meals for students. A few are not. So arrangements also had to be made to bring meals for students to those schools.
In 2016 – the first year of Pathway to K – many of the schools that served as sites for Pathway to K were in East Winston neighborhoods, and volunteers with the East Winston Missional Network, which is made up primarily of United Methodist churches in East Winston, began working with Pathway to K, helping in such ways as providing students with backpacks filled with pencils, scissors and other school supplies, as well as read-aloud books, to take home.
They have continued to work with Pathway to K and – with Pathway to One once it was added – in that and other ways, such as going into classrooms to read and providing nutritious snacks.
As more schools in other parts of the county have been added, United Methodist churches in other parts of the county have also been participating.
This year, a number of United Methodist churches are being used as the sites for the family-engagement nights.
Camille Roddy, who oversees the network’s relationship with school system, said they understand that transportation can be a problem for some families, and, wanting to eliminate that barrier, volunteers with the network have been providing transportation to and from the family-engagement nights for those who need it.
“As a church family, we understand the importance of going the extra mile – doing what is needed to remove the barriers,” Roddy said.
About 50 volunteers help out with that and in other ways.
The Pathway to K and Pathway to One elementary schools are:
The United Methodist churches that serve as hosts for parent-engagement events are:
New Hope - Gibson and Old Town Elementary
New Story - Griffith Elementary
Wesley Memorial - Bolton Elementary
Crews - Petree Elementary
Main Street - Kernersville Elementary
St. Paul (Kernersville) - Smith Farm Elementary
Burkhead - Speas Elementary
Green Street UMC - Kimberly Park Elementary
New Story and Green Street are members of the East Winston Missional Network. Other United Methodist churches participating in the East Winston Missional Network are: