NPS, Grace Skilled Nursing partner for new pre-kindergarten program

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Norman Public Schools and Grace Skilled Nursing announced a partnership in which students will learn alongside their elders in a pre-kindergarten program starting in the 2019-20 school year.

Pre-kindergarten students in Norman Public Schools will learn alongside their elders next school year thanks to a new program.

NPS has partnered with Grace Skilled Nursing to present two extended-day pre-kindergarten classes in the 2019-20 school year to facilitate interactions with the center's residents. It will take part in two newly constructed classrooms and a playground specifically built for the program.

While the academic curriculum will remain mostly the same as it is now across the district, the intergenerational program will provide real-world lessons in empathy, social history, conversation skills and more.

Residents, known as "grandmas and grandpas," will serve as reading buddies with students and engage in activities such as music, movement, sing-a-longs, dramatic play, shared studies and ice cream socials. Students will be supervised at all times, and a Grace Skilled Nursing employee also will serve as a liaison during daily interactions with residents.

"We are excited to partner with Grace Skilled Nursing to provide this enrichment opportunity to our youngest students," Dr. Nick Migliorino, Norman Public School District superintendent, said. "We believe daily interactions with older adults can enhance children's social and emotional development, and students who have participated in intergenerational programs are also prone to feel more comfortable around those with disabilities than their peers who lack similar experiences."

Grace Skilled Nursing has taken part in intergenerational education partnerships, a national program, before. NPS will model the facility's successful partnership with Jenks Public Schools in Tulsa.

"We are thrilled to partner with Norman Public Schools on this intergenerational adventure," Don Greiner, president of Grace Living Centers, said. "It will bring such energy and joy to our residents while providing powerful life lessons to the students. We are social beings, called to live in a community, and the community formed between children and our elders in our intergenerational partnerships is as special as it gets."

The program has a capacity of 40 students, who will be selected through a drawing process. Each class will have a maximum of 20 students.

Applications are open May 13-30 and drawing results will be posted June 5. Parents who have already enrolled their child in an existing pre-k program may still participate in the drawing without losing their child's current placement.