Jefferson Elementary School conversion to Head Start nears completion

The district received a $2.9 million federal grant to make the transition.
The conversion means elementary students will now be housed at Fort Howard.
The conversion means elementary students will now be housed at Fort Howard.(WBAY)
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 10:41 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Tuesday was the first day of school for students in the Green Bay Area Public School District.

While all students are starting the year virtually, some elementary and head-start kids will face another change when they return to the classroom.

Action 2 News first told you last fall that school board members, in a close vote, decided to consolidate Jefferson and Fort Howard Elementary schools; turning Jefferson into the west side head start location.

The district received a $2.9 million federal grant to do the conversion.

Renovations are still being made inside the building to accommodate 170 three and four-year-olds.

“We put a bathroom and sinks in  every single classroom. Phase two will include the renovations of our community room and our caring closet. We’re also moving our parent resource center to Jefferson Head Start,” said Sally Jansen, director of Head Start for the district.

The renovations started in May and are expected to be complete by early October. Teachers were allowed back in the building this week to start setting up their classrooms, and even do virtual lessons.

“We do a lot of recordings ahead of time and we send them out for the children to watch and the teachers go back online and talk with the children about the activity that they watched,” said Jansen. “One of the most successful parts about virtual that we are finding is that the parents are learning right along with the children.”

When students are allowed back in the building, elementary students who were previously at Jefferson will be headed to Fort Howard,

“We always have about 25-30 percent of new students to Fort Howard,” said DeAnn Lehman, principal at Fort Howard.

To help make the transition from Jefferson to Fort Howard a little easier, teachers have been meeting families in their yards over the last few weeks to get to know each other.

“They also got to know a little bit about the teacher, did they teach at Jefferson, were they at Fort Howard. So again, just kind of doing that little personal note,” said Lehman.

She says the visits help build trust with the families and will hopefully make the virtual learning experience a little smoother.

“Just know these first couple, two weeks are going to be really clunky until we get used to the routine, until our kids and families get used to the routine. If they run into any road blocks, please reach out to us,” said Lehman.

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