Brookings' Kalmiopsis Elementary School will be greeting its largest kindergarten class in many years, when 135 boys and girls begin their school career on Tuesday Sept. 3.
There will be six kindergarten teachers to greet youngsters on their first day of school, and they are already in their classrooms this week planning and preparing for the upcoming year.
"This is our biggest class for a while," said Molly Wallace, a kindergarten teacher at Kalmiopsis.
Kindergartners at Kalmiopsis attend school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., a full day of instruction for the little 5- and 6-year-olds, including new standards-based grading to help parents determine in which areas their students excel or require further help.
"There is a new common-core grading system and a new math program," said kindergarten teacher Marcy Kime.
Kime said that, since many students do not attend preschool, teaching students social skills is also important.
The first two days of classes for kindergarten students will involve administering state assessment tests.
"State testing shows how prepared the children are for kindergarten," said Terry Brueckner, kindergarten teacher.
"Some don't know the letters in their name when they arrive and by the end of the year they are reading," Wallace said.
Kindergarten classrooms each have different themes, such as the alligator or elephant class. Besides the lilliputian chairs and coat hooks at the children's eye level, teachers are busy organizing their classrooms, preparing to make room for the 23 children expected in each classroom.
Kime said she is ordering more books and is trying to maximize her classroom space to accommodate the large class size.
Kalmiopsis teachers recently attended a training to show them how to better teach math skills to students. The training de-emphasizes rote memorization.
"I'm just itching to get into the classroom and plan lessons," Brueckner said.
The 135 kindergartners will be part of the estimated 713 students who will start school Sept. 3 at Kalmiopsis.