Little Knights earn big award
The preschool program at Lake Havasu High School got top honors from the state’s leading early childhood education program.
First Thing First said the Little Knights Preschool program at Lake Havasu High School earned a five-star rating after a rigorous three-part review process.
Little Knights is a preschool program that pairs high school students interested in early childhood development education with preschool-aged children for real-world experience that’s under the close watch of its directors.
The honor from First Things First is quite the achievement for the long established program , say Little Knights Preschool program directors Marie Hendry and Cathy Bagby.
“We worked really hard to get this 5-Star rating,” Hendry said. “It’s a long process and there are a lot of challenges. When the assessors come in, we need to make sure they’re on board and understand our concepts and philosophies.”
Adhering to the Arizona Early Learning Standards, Hendry and Bagby evaluated their learning environment and ensured the language and interactions of each lesson were positive, instructional and developmental. Representatives from First Things First reviewed teacher credentials and student portfolios. After careful considerations, facility improvements, and adjustments to the curriculum, the Little Knights Preschool scored a perfect 5.0.
With leaders like Hendry and Bagby, it’s no wonder the program acquired such an award. Hendry, with 13 years of experience, is the preschool’s director and also an early childhood education instructor at the high school who uses hands-on teaching methods with both her students and the preschoolers.
“We do so much hands-on with each child that we pick up on their learning levels fairly quickly,” she said. Involved in early childhood education since college, Hendry teaches high school students in the Little Knights program the skills necessary to create lesson plans, prepare structured schedules, problem solve, think critically, be engaged, and ask open-ended questions.
She provides those students with as much information as possible for them to write lesson plans and deliver the lessons themselves.
Bagby, a former kindergarten teacher, has worked for the Little Knights program for three years. She helps smaller groups of EarlyChildhood E students prepare their lessons.
“Early childhood is so important and it’s finally getting some recognition,” Bagby said. “We don’t know who we’re going to have in here. We might have a doctor, a mechanic, the next president of the United States, or more teachers. They are our futures. It’s not just sit down in front of a TV or give them an iPad. There is so much that happens and she (Marie Hendry) is making that happen.”
When Hendry isn’t teaching at Lake Havasu High School, she works with the directors of preschools in the community and any of their hired staff that need their childhood development associate’s degree.
Because of her involvement, the Little Knights program has touched the community beyond the high school campus. “Almost every preschool or daycare in town has somebody that has gone through this training with Marie,” Bagby said. “That is huge!”