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— Special to the Camen News

September 2, 2020, marked the official grand opening of the Rocket Preschool. The event took place inside the College’s auditorium due to unpredictable weather. The event was attended by Rocket Preschool children, their teachers, and Karen Kay McMahen, South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC), Stephanie Sliva, Rocket PreK teacher, Belinda Gill, Rocket PreK Para, Robin Richardson, ABC Coordinator, and Zephonia Avant, Early Childhood Curriculum Specialist Also in attendance was SAU Tech’s executive staff and members of the College’s Rocket Cheer Squad.

The Rocket Preschool is the result of the College’s strategic planning initiatives and the insight of Gaye Manning, SAU Tech’s Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and Karen Kay McMahen. In a strategic planning session, the need for campus-based childcare services was shared with the group. Karen Kay was quick to respond, stating that South Central Service Cooperative had available PreK slots to open a classroom at SAU Tech. Less than a year later, the preschool is open with a new playground and a wonderfully equipped classroom. “The preschool is making a difference for our students,” said Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech Chancellor. “There is always a need for quality childcare programs around college campuses, and I am excited that our partnership with Karen Kay and her staff has resulted in meeting this need.”

The paraprofessional heading up the campus services, Stephanie Sliva, is a graduate of SAU Tech. SAU Tech’s Teacher Education program, headed by Amy Diehl, prepares paraprofessionals and teachers and some of the program’s students will serve as interns for the preschool while they attend the education program. Karen Kay quoted, “This partnership eliminates the barrier of quality childcare for students at SAU Tech with children. The littles can learn where mom or dad is learning.”

Early Childhood Curriculum Specialist, Zephonia Avant, provided an in-depth tour of the preschool after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The school still has a few openings for students.

The SCSC provides services to education professionals and students in the South Arkansas area. More information on all the services provided by SCSC can be found at www.scscoop.org. SAU Tech has a webpage with information about the Rocket Preschool for students located at https://www.sautech.edu/rocket-preschool/.

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