Early learning is passion for principal
by Courtney Stevens
Sep 10, 2013 | 2812 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brooks Elementary Principal Cody Shumaker assists students in the pre-k program as they practice writing numbers.
Brooks Elementary Principal Cody Shumaker assists students in the pre-k program as they practice writing numbers.
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The Brooks Elementary School Class of 2027 is hitting the ground running in terms of graduation.

Cody Shumaker, principal, has worked hard to establish a pre-kindergarten program at Brooks in order to better prepare students for high school and college.

"When I came in last year as principal I already knew there was a dire need for pre-k," said Shumaker.

"This is one thing I think the state really needs to rally around and understand. For Mississippi to move forward it is essential for us to get our kids in a spot where they can be successful long term and a fully funded pre-k is going to do that, as well as making kindergarten mandatory," Shumaker.

By pulling funds and raising awareness for the program, Shumaker was able to work with different city officials to get the program in place.

"In speaking with our superintendent Rev. Jessie King, we decided last year that we were going to make it our goal to have pre-k this year, and we did.

"I think that our students are better off for it and we will be able to track that data longitudinally, which is exciting.

"We had to get very creative with how we funded this program," said Shumaker.

Many do not realize what is necessary to fill a classroom, however, each classroom at Brooks can be adopted, allowing different sponsors to supply their adopted classroom with important educational materials.

"You've got to outfit the room and get all of the things you need—a board, tables, chairs, instructional materials for student use and teacher preparation.

"You're looking at a sum of money, not so daunting that the state legislature can't fund it, and if we spend our money wisely, the money is there," said Shumaker.

Shumaker is very pleased with common core standards that are now implemented in public schools and believes allowing children to start school earlier will assist them in reaching a higher level of education.

"When you start to look at the transition to the common core state standards, it's imperative that we get children learning as soon as possible.

"Common core standards kick everything up a couple of notches — very rigorous — but good.

"It's important for our students to be pushed to those levels of rigor but, in order to do that in a successful way, we need to get students into a classroom situation as soon as possible," said Shumaker.

The pre-k classroom is brightly colored and filled with mind stimulating posters and activities for the children, including an interactive Promethean white board.

This type of board allows students to become accustomed to working with technology at an early level and gives them the potential to be better prepared with using technology in upper levels of education.

Shumaker also believes this program will reach new heights due to the specific teachers in the classrooms.

"We have a phenomenal instructor in Ms. Blocker. We are very pleased with her coming back and joining us from Jackson," said Shumaker of Lashemill Blocker, Brooks' pre-kindergarten teacher.

Shumaker also believes in the importance of an assistant teacher.

"Ms. Moore has stepped in to join us. She is doing a phenomenal job working with students and learning the craft of educating children.

"It's wonderful when you can step into a classroom and truly know that is an assistant teacher and not a teacher's assistant. We make the distinction between the two," said Shumaker.

When asked how he was able to make this goal a reality, Shumaker said, "The Board of Trustees and North Bolivar School District have been very supportive, and parents have been very supportive.

"It takes those people that are committed to something to make it happen."