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Pre-school returns to Antelope Valley

Staff reports

Antelope Valley Head Start state preschool in Coleville opened its doors Jan. 3 in a trailer on the Antelope Valley Schools campus.

Funding was made available from the California Department of Education, Child Development Division after five years of looking in to providing a preschool in Coleville. The area has been without a preschool for the years since the Inter-Tribal Council closed its preschool at Camp Antelope.

A total of 14 3- to 4-year-olds are being served through this center. The school runs from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Site supervisor and teacher Natalie Ritter said the preschool is licensed for 17 students, but 14 is the optimal number for the space they have.

The school, along with other Head Start preschools in Lee Vining, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, is run by a parent-representative policy council.

“We’ll be having our first parents meeting on the 19th. The meetings are open and the parents can talk to their representative if they have a suggestion for a change in the program, in fact, we encourage it,” Ritter said.

There are income guidelines for students in the preschool, Ritter said. She described the school as targeted at those families who can’t afford the luxury of sending their children all the way to Gardnerville for preschool.

Ritter and teacher Stephanie Burnette strive to serve low-income families by providing referrals about all issues the family may face, not just for the children.

“We advocate for the parents. We are constantly looking for referrals for services the family may need, housing, clothing, food and also for the health of the children,” Ritter said.

She said regardless of income, students with special needs are also accepted into the program and they currently have two special-needs students.

In the school itself, the students get a “creative curriculum,” Ritter said. “We have a lot of self-motivating activities. We encourage children to play because play is their work. We also have a lot of art, hands-on things.”