NEW BEDFORD — This summer, at least seven children who will be starting school at Carlos Pacheco Elementary School in the fall will participate in a kindergarten readiness program at the Presidential Heights Housing Development as part of a new partnership between New Bedford Public Schools and the Housing Authority.
Eighty-five percent of students at Carlos Pacheco live in either the Brickenwood, Presidential Heights or Nashmont housing developments, said Sherrie Nobre, the ROSS program director at the Housing Authority. The Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency program is designed to provide residents with resources to become just that — self-sufficient and independent.
The kindergarten readiness program, “Learning in Action,” will get children who live in public housing and have not attended pre-kindergarten ready for their first year in school, Nobre said. About one in four children in New Bedford Public Schools don’t start their education until kindergarten, said Superintendent Pia Durkin in April.
“Some of our kids have not had formal pre-kindergarten. This helps them get a head start,” Nobre said.
Students will attend the free program three days a week for three hours each over six weeks.
The plan, Nobre said, is to have three cohorts of students over three years until they reach second grade. The goal is to see whether it effects their standardized scores when they take the MCAS in the third grade.
The lesson plan follows the Common Core framework, said Maria Mojica, a former ROSS coordinator who helped spearhead the program.
It covers the alphabet, counting one through 10, writing names, fine motor skills and socializing skills.
So far, seven children have signed up, Nobre said. Nobre said they plan to grow it to 35 students eventually.
Mojica recently took a job with the Parker School as a family resource manager. That has slowed the start of the program. The Housing Authority is in the process of hiring a new ROSS coordinator to replace Mojica. The program won’t start until then. Nobre said the program will be adjusted depending on how soon they find a replacement.
The kindergarten readiness program is one of several educational initiates launched by Housing Authority Executive Steven Beauregard. He said he has made education a priority among programs offered by the public housing program.
The educational programs at the Housing Authority are under the federal Department of Urban and Housing Development’s ROSS grant program.
The Housing Authority received its first grant in 2011 to fund two ROSS coordinators at Bay Village and Presidential Heights. It received a second three-year grant this year for $492,000. According to HUD, the grant funds “supportive services, resident empowerment activities, and assistance in becoming economically self-sufficient.”