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BuildingThe Poplar Bluff Kindergarten Center was among three schools in Southeast Missouri to be recognized by the state last year for exhibiting best practices under the Collaborative Works initiative.

The grant-funded program through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is designed to teach at risk students how to track their own academic and behavioral progress in the classroom.

“The key is when a student—not just the teacher—looks at a goal and asks, ‘How do I get to this stage?’” said Carol Brotman, kindergarten principal. “Talk about the different conversations going on with a student when that realization occurs! It’s amazing to see the growth.”

Teachers generally choose kindergarten because they have a passion for early childhood education, agreed Brotman, who described it as hands on all day long, a pace that requires lots of energy. “It definitely takes a special person to teach kindergarten,” Brotman admitted.

But seeing a child go from not being able to spell their name to writing a short paragraph is most rewarding, Brotman commented. She believes in the saying, ‘Everything I learned, I learned in kindergarten.' 

“It is true,” Brotman said. “This is their first experience dealing with a friend, losing a tooth, leaving mom, eating lunch in a cafeteria, opening milk, getting in line. 

“The transformation in kindergarten—I don’t know if anything else compares.”

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