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Little Patriots

Junior+Hannah+Tetens+and+senior+Victoria+Barbour+help+the+children+complete+a+matching+puzzle.+The+students+work+in+teams+of+three%2C+rotating+between+the+jobs+of+lead+teacher%2C+assistant+teacher%2C+and+observer.+
Junior Hannah Tetens and senior Victoria Barbour help the children complete a matching puzzle. The students work in teams of three, rotating between the jobs of lead teacher, assistant teacher, and observer.

Junior Hannah Tetens and senior Victoria Barbour help the children complete a matching puzzle. The students work in teams of three, rotating between the jobs of lead teacher, assistant teacher, and observer.

Photo provided by: Emily LaMontagne

Photo provided by: Emily LaMontagne

Junior Hannah Tetens and senior Victoria Barbour help the children complete a matching puzzle. The students work in teams of three, rotating between the jobs of lead teacher, assistant teacher, and observer.

Emily LaMontagne, Web Editor-in-Chief

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Outside of Building 8, students can see a colorful playground. While some wish it was for their enjoyment, it is intended for the recreation of Brantley’s “Little Patriots.” The Little Patriots are preschool aged children who attend Brantley’s daycare. The daycare is overseen by applied technology teacher Andrea Lesko and the certified students in her Early Childhood Education classes.

For students wishing to work with the Little Patriots, certain steps must be taken. They are required to take the Early Childhood Development level one class, taught by Angela Cecere. It must be completed with an A or B, and students must prove they are reliable and have good attendance. They must also have room for a double block class in their schedule.

“The high school students, after they have had a year of training with Mrs. Cecere, come over here with me,” Lesko said. “We work kind of more on items like what is developmentally appropriate.”

Once students are accepted into the class, they get to work with the preschoolers.  They are placed into teams of three, rotating between the jobs of lead teacher, assistant teacher, and observer. Since the daycare is only open Tuesday through Thursday, each student gets the chance to do each job once within the week they are teaching. They have to create a lesson plan two weeks in advance in order to give Lesko a chance to review it and have the students make changes if necessary. The students also have a long term project of creating a yearbook for each Little Patriot, which is personalized to include them in every single picture.

“The most challenging part of the class is teaching because each kid learns in a different way, so you have to be able to teach all of them the way that they understand,” junior Alana Welch said. “They are great kids but sometimes it’s hard to keep them concentrated because they are only three, four, and five years old.”

Students create lesson plans for the centers of science, math, outdoor activities, art, reading, phonics, block play, calendar, and music.  Each lesson has to correspond to the theme, color, and letter of the week. There is also a team of students in charge of planning and preparing the snacks and lunches for the week, which must be healthy and served in appropriate quantities. Lesko encourages students to emphasize the developmental aspects of their plans for the week. While the students are teaching, Lesko walks around taking notes,which are used on Fridays when the class meeting is held to give feedback about what went well and what could be worked on for next time.

“Working with the children is definitely my favorite part about ECE (Early Childhood Education) because you actually get to see a child learn and grow,” senior Tiffany Spates said. “It’s just an unforgettable experience.”

Numerous benefits come with the class. While the Little Patriots are on winter break during the month of January, the students work on earning certifications, such as a restaurant safety certification and college credit through Seminole State College. If the students take the class for all of their four years at Brantley, they can earn a child development accreditation, which is similar to earning an associates degree in child development. The students take the college exam in April, giving them the opportunity to earn six college credits if passed. By gaining these certifications and college credits in high school, the students are saved a substantial amount of money for their future education.

“A lot of students that come in here are interested in going into education or some type of career field working with young children,” Lesko said. “It gives them the opportunity to see if that’s really the direction they want to go in especially since we all know how expensive college is.”

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