Opelika’s First Class Pre-K Academy is a model for the State of Alabama’s push for more pre-kindergarten programs throughout the state.
There are 36 students enrolled in the private Pre-K academy, but there’s a waiting list of well over 50 children. The goal is to expand the program so no child will be turned away.
One of their lessons this week is about words that start with the letter ‘P.’ Their lead teacher Wendy Overstreet says this was the perfect opportunity to teach students that ‘P’ stands for police and to teach them what they do for the community.
“When you start the introduction of what does a police officer do. One of the first things they say is, ‘they take them to jail, they take bad people to jail,’ that’s what they think. When you talk about their equipment, the first thing they talk about is guns and that’s what they see on TV. That’s all they know,” Overstreet said.
So Overstreet thought why not bridge the gap. Several law enforcement agencies in East Alabama stopped by to show the kids what they do protect and serve folks in East Alabama.
“With all this stuff going on and all these bigger, heavier conversations sometimes it gets lost in translation that we are here to help people. It’s really important for kids to know that from a young age so that if something ever happens we can be approachable for them, Cpt. Shane Healy with Opelika Police Dept. said.
Cindy Conway with the academy says Pre-K is laying the foundation for further growth.
“We are who we are by 5 that is basic psychology and so writing the last chapter in a child’s life at four is a blessing,” Conway said.
Conway sees this hands on experience as a way for students to be prepared if they’re ever in a situation where they may need help.