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Preschooler Kyli Petrie graduating from Ridgefield's Early Learning Center
Preschooler Kyli Petrie graduating from Ridgefield's Early Learning Center
Ridgefield School District's partnerships help deliver early learning services - 07/13/21

Ridgefield School District’s Early Learning Center has partnered with Educational Opportunities for Children and Families (EOCF) to provide additional preschool options through the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP). Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, the collaboration will provide additional openings for community children ages 3-5 who are experiencing developmental or environmental factors, or whose families meet income eligibility requirements.

Children with a developmental delay, disability, or with special needs, are experiencing homelessness, and/or growing up in kinship or foster care may be eligible for ECEAP. In addition to receiving high quality preschool, children and families in ECEAP programs work closely with parents to support their children’s overall health and wellness.

Research has found that children who receive high quality early learning opportunities enter kindergarten with enhanced math, language, and social skills. The results are far-reaching, as research has also proven that children who receive high quality early learning services are less likely to be in special education or repeat a grade in school, less likely to become pregnant as a teen or become involved in a crime, are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college, and more likely to be employed and to earn more as adults.

“Early learning opportunities help children reach their full potential,” said Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent of the Ridgefield School District. “We are pleased to have this opportunity to expand access to early learning to more children and families in our community.”

The Early Learning Center began providing high quality preschool services to local children in 2019. EOCF has been providing ECEAP services to the communities in Clark, Pacific and Cowlitz counties for more than 28 years.

“Ridgefield School District is committed to providing opportunities for children and families," said Erika Muir, the district's Early Learning Coordinator. "This partnership is an important step toward ensuring high quality early childhood education opportunities for our community.”

Registration is now open. Visit www.eocfwa.org to enroll today, or find answers to many common questions.

If you have additional questions about the EOCF or ECEAP, please contact Andi Greear at (360) 567-2720 or by emailing eear@eocfwa.org">andi.greear@eocfwa.org.

For questions about Ridgefield School District's Early Learning Center, please contact Erika Muir at (360) 619-1333 or by emailing ika.muir@ridgefieldsd.org">erika.muir@ridgefieldsd.org.

A group of fourth grade students displays their decorated rocks
A group of fourth grade students displays their decorated rocks
Ridgefield fourth graders 'rock' moving up - 06/25/21

The end of the 2020-21 school year means that Ridgefield School District’s fourth grade students will be “moving up” to Sunset Ridge Intermediate School when school resumes in the fall. While these students said goodbye to South Ridge and Union Ridge elementary schools, they left behind a pair of painted rock gardens at the schools, which will serve as lasting reminders of the Class of 2029.

To celebrate their “graduation” to Sunset Ridge, district fourth graders painted personalized rocks representing the lasting memories of their time in elementary school and as a visible reminder of the students moving onward and upward in their education.

At South Ridge Elementary School, fourth-grade classes created a rock garden. Students painted rocks with their class color and their first names. Then they gathered outside the classrooms in a sheltered spot to place the rocks in the rainbow-colored Resiliency Garden. Proud of their graduation to a new school, the students smiled brightly as they picked just the right place in the bark dust to nestle their rocks together.

Being able to paint the rocks together in person was especially meaningful to them, as the entire group started the year in remote learning. “The Resiliency Garden was installed with a plaque to recognize the challenges this group overcame this year,” Principal Jill Neyenhouse explained. The colorful rocks will remain at South Ridge to remind future visitors of how resilient young people can be. 

Union Ridge Elementary School’s rock “river” has been in place for two years, inspired by the book “Only One You” by Linda Kranz. In the book, a fish learns some wise advice from his parents as he sets out on his own, including “Look for the beauty wherever you are, and keep the memory of it with you,” “Always be on the lookout for a new friend,” and “Find your own way. You don’t have to follow the crowd.” 

Teachers read “Only One You” aloud to their students before the fourth graders designed and painted their rocks. “We really wanted to highlight the uniqueness of each student and the impact they’ve had on our Tater Tot family and their community beyond,” said school counselor Niccele Dunn. “We’re hoping the river will remain there and continue to be expanded for many years to come. So if the graduates come back to visit, they’ll be able to see their rocks and remember their time at Union Ridge.” 

These fourth-grade students “rocked” their move up to fifth grade, and the personal reminders of their resilience and achievement will stay in place to inspire future elementary school students for years to come.