In October 2021, our beloved VPK program shut down indefinitely. In moments like these, most would simply accept the outcome and carry on assuming there was nothing else they could have done to prevent it. This time, though, there were people who wanted a different outcome, an outcome they were willing to fight for.
Ever since the story was published, efforts were made to bring back this program for both students and teachers to benefit from it. Ms. Tomie Troxell, our VPK teacher, is excited because of this. “I am so excited because of your interview, I truly believe we’re getting our VPK back and so that brings a lot of excitement and joy to me, to the students as well, because it has been so hard to get everyone certified this year and the students haven’t had the hands-on experience,” She paused for a moment. “Going over to Michigan Avenue, they’ve been lucky to be in the classroom but, teachers aren’t given full reign over what happens in the Pre-K with the curriculum that has been assigned.”
Students in the Early Childhood program are thrilled over the news of the VPK coming back, as it has been difficult for them to truly experience what it’s like to deal with children without children actually being present.
Even the playground started to gain back its lively colors as repairs have started to be done to it. “I actually noticed that the playground was starting to change in looks. I noticed some repairs were happening so I went to go ask questions. Mr. Fancher kind of hinted that the money that was being spent to bring the playground back together was a sign that we were getting the VPK back,” Mrs. Troxell exclaimed.
Mr. Robert Dombo, one of our assistant principals, was the one who gave the final decision of it officially coming back. “So, there were many talks about it and there were a couple of issues that raised from it.” He paused for a moment to gather his words. “Because we’re not a title one school we can’t offer full VPK for free so we would have to have VPK by the state, which is 4 hours, and then you would have to charge for the other 4 hours if the student wanted to stay the full day which is the way it has been in the past.” Even with this fact, Dombo and others have analyzed many options to make it officially come back. “We are talking on many levels to district,” Dombo started. “It has certainly been expressed that we want the VPK back.”
All these efforts (and hopefully more!) that are being done collectively can bring the VPK back in no time. With these two stories, the reasons for it coming back have become important to many people. “Well, I’m excited Miss Emma because not only has this given us an opportunity to get the VPK back, what you’re doing is really important and it is impactful. So, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart because what you’re doing, the story that you gave, is making a difference. I have 120 students that are going to shuffle through there, and those kids are so lucky to have any of those students coming from there. So, I’m so thankful,” Ms. Troxell exclaimed as she gave me a hug and a smile.
This program offers so much to these students that it is important for it to come back. Students get to interact with kids and become better parents for their own children in the future. They get to prove to the world that this program is worth it. Not just for kids but for those who have to privilege to work with them.