Last year a think-tank composed of members from Great Falls Public Schools and Malmstrom AFB met to discuss innovative ideas to benefit both organizations. As stated in an earlier article, “Education is foundational to every business, every student, every school and central to making progress across all areas.” A pilot Transitional Kinder program for select Malmstrom AFB families was one of those innovative ideas and was launched at Skyline Center in the fall of 2022.
Courtnee Doll, teacher, and Colette Getten, administrator are pleased with the collaboration and see definite benefits for their young students. Courtnee states that she works hand-in-hand with Malmstrom and noted that Lisa Sapp, Malmstrom liaison checks in often. She helps the ELF Center navigate the ins and outs of military life and bussing schedules, issues and challenges.
The curriculum is not any different than the other preschool/transitional classes, but because students come from many different states and countries before arriving at Malmstrom, they bring many diverse life experiences that enhance the learning in different ways. The GFPS transitional kinder program does a baseline assessment in the Fall and then does progress monitoring in the winter. Mrs. Getten states, “We are excited about celebrating with families during parent conferences in early February, the growth the children have made.”
There are about 15 students enrolled in the class. Mrs. Doll is the main teacher with a sub para educator. Parents had to qualify through a Malmstrom/GFPS process before their children could attend the ELF Center. Students are picked up and dropped off in front of LOY Elementary to be transported to the center each day.
Colette and Courtnee are grateful for the support of the parents. They bring experiences from other bases’ Transitional Kinder programs and once qualified are very involved. Parents of the students are connected outside of school which makes for strong relationships.
By working together for a strong education for students, Malmstrom and GFPS have created a great opportunity for children beginning their educational journey.