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Changes Coming to Early Childhood Program

During the approximately 15 years that St. Patrick School has offered early childhood education, we have seen many changes. The program has come a long way from the days when we had a single preschool class in a small room in the parish center.

The program will again see changes this fall as we restructure our offerings to better align with the scheduling needs of families and the academic needs of students. The lead teachers in our early childhood classrooms will also change as existing staff move into new positions.

Here’s a look at what parents can expect in the fall.

New Class Name, New Teaching Roles

For the 2022-2023 school year, our early childhood program will be comprised of two classes: preschool and transitional kindergarten.

Transitional kindergarten is the new name for our developmental kindergarten. Whether you know it as Young 5s or DK, transitional kindergarten plays an integral role in preparing students who are past preschool but not quite ready yet for kindergarten. It’s a time when foundational skills are emphasized, and we are thrilled to have Mrs. Kristina Gwisdalla returning to teach this class next year.

Meanwhile, our preschool program will combine 3 and 4-year-olds and be led by Bre Bowerman – known as Miss Bre to students. She is currently in her second year at St. Pat’s as a paraprofessional in the kindergarten classroom. She’s also been a coach for our Girls on the Run program.

“I love 3 and 4-year-olds,” Bre says. “Their hearts are so pure. They are so sweet and empathetic.”

Bre will be taking over preschool from Kristina and expects to continue using the proven curriculum that is already in place. She will also be incorporating her own touches to the classroom.

“I’m super hands-on,” she says. Her plan for preschool includes many opportunities for students to learn by doing and perhaps take their lessons outside as the weather allows.

Looking Ahead to 2023-2024

We have been fortunate to have Kristina directing our early childhood program for nine years, and she has spent the past six years teaching both preschool and DK. By stepping back from preschool this fall, she will have time to focus on another passion she’s wanted to pursue.

“I’ve always been drawn to students who need more support,” Kristina explains. This summer, she will work on becoming certified in applied behavior analysis (ABA), a type of therapy that is often provided to those on the autism spectrum but can also be used to address a variety of concerns including depression, anxiety and ADHD.

“My goal is to get certified as a technician and then earn a master’s degree in child psychology,” Kristina says.

That means that after the upcoming year, Kristina will step away from the classroom entirely and pass the baton to Bre who will teach both transitional kindergarten and preschool.

“Meeting Bre and watching her grow as an educator the last few years has been an honor,” Kristina says. The two will work closely together in the upcoming year to make a smooth transition, but Kristina has no qualms about Bre’s ability to take the reins, saying: “She’s a natural!”

“With Bre taking over, I can leave confidently knowing the programs are going to be in good hands,” Kristina says. “Only good things lie ahead for the early childhood program.”

We agree and look forward to this new chapter as we continue to partner with parents and provide students with the high-quality and faith-filled education they have come to know and expect at St. Patrick School.


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