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Maize USD 266, PAT program collaborate to make Maize a birth through 12th-grade district

Maize USD 266, PAT program collaborate to make Maize a birth through 12th-grade district

A partnership between the Maize Parents as Teachers (PAT) program and Maize Unified School District 266 offers the Maize and northwest Wichita community a seamless net of support and allows the district to offer services for newborns all the way to students in 12th grade. 

“We like to say our district is birth to grade 12,” said Michelle McAllister, coordinator of the Maize Parents as Teachers program. 

The Maize PAT program was started 21 years ago and was housed in one of the district’s elementary schools. It was then moved to a high school and then back to an elementary school. The PAT program moved to the Maize Early Childhood Center nearly six years ago when it was built through a bond. 

“I was delighted to learn that a goal for the Maize Parents as Teachers programs is to get families and kids into the early childhood education building so that they all get familiar and comfortable with the setting,” said Lisa Williams, a Parents as Teachers consultant on the Kansas State Department of Education’s Early Childhood team. “Maize PAT hosts some of their PAT group connections and other events in the Maize Early Childhood building. It is such a cool setup.” 

The center houses the Parents as Teachers program, as well as the district’s pre-K program. In-house supports include ESOL, occupational and physical therapists and speech-language pathologists to meet the needs of all students, said DeDe Pierce, principal of the Maize Early Childhood Center. 

This is Pierce’s second year serving as principal. 

“One of my goals, when I took on this position, was to help promote our services being birth through age 5 and integrate with the rest of the district for a true B-12 opportunity,” she said. “This collaboration helps everyone know that we’re all in this together. It offers a seamless net of support for families as their children grow.” 

The center serves about 350 students through the 3- and 4-year-old program. The PAT program serves 150 children for a combined total of nearly 500 children. 

“It’s fantastic,” McAllister said. “A lot of our events are a collaboration.” 

For example, the Maize Early Childhood Center on Tuesday, Dec. 13, hosted Santa. Instead of just opening the event to families of the 3- and 4-year-old program, the center also invited PAT families. 

“There are families who don’t know about us, so it has been a good recruitment tool,” McAllister said. “Students become comfortable with the building, and it creates trust with parents. I think it also creates an opportunity for families to always have support and the services they need.” 

Lauren Roulhac and her family began serving as a foster family for little Jonah Roulhac when he was just two days old. He will turn 3 soon and will attend the pre-K program at the Maize Early Childhood Center in the fall. 

“Jonah was delayed in physical development, as well as cognitive development,” Lauren Roulhac said. “I heard about PAT as a teacher and had friends who also had used it. We have been using PAT for a little over two years. Jana (Jonah’s parent educator) always brought great activities to work on, helped to connect us with valuable resources and was a wealth of knowledge. PAT always helped keep us aware of what Jonah should developmentally be able to do and ideas on how to work on those goals.” 

While the older Roulhac children didn’t receive PAT services, Lauren said it has been a huge benefit for her family. 

“It helped us identify some areas of weakness and work on those developmental things before the issue became larger,” she said. “I also taught kindergarten and know several students who greatly benefited from PAT at a very young age. This program benefits the entire school district and community.” 

Posted: Dec 21, 2022,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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