By Mia Khatib
DURHAM – Back-to-school season is in full effect. Durham Public Schools hosted an interactive and informational event for kindergarteners and their families at the Museum of Life and Science.
“Countdown to Kindergarten” included booths and representatives from DPS departments and community partners to welcome students and provide preparation material for parents.
Latoya McCrimmon, DPS transition to kindergarten facilitator, said the event was an opportunity for parents to mingle, gather more information and have specific questions answered. “And it was just a fun event for kids to come out and be excited about going to kindergarten,” she said.
The DPS departments included before and after school activities, transportation, child nutrition, advanced academics, and more. Durham County Library, PBS Kids Channel, and Durham’s Partnership for Children also made an appearance and handed out resources.
Candace Sorrell, parent to a rising Oak Grove kindergartener, said her family just moved from a different district. If the event hadn't gone on, then a lot of people in the DPS system at-large would be lost when it comes to the first few weeks of school,” she said.
DPS “didn’t count anybody out,” said Sorrell. Her younger daughter, entering pre-K, also got resources and indulged in the activities at the event.
“It was very well thought out how they crafted [the information stands] to go around the museum. The museum had those interactive things in those moments that the kids could participate in, while their parents were getting the information that they needed,” she said.
Sorrell attended DPS when she was in elementary school and said she was happy to see some teachers that she had as a child. “I know that I'm sending my child to a place that will be safe, has competent teachers and has the means to excel.”
Parent Niana Clements said she had a positive experience with [her son] in pre-K last year. “Getting [my son] in the routine of getting himself ready for school every day and making sure that he knows what to expect — that is great to be able to set him up for success,” she said.
Similarly, Oak Grove Elementary had its own information session that gave parents a list of “sight words” kids can work on before school starts, said Sorrell. “We can be ahead of the game if caretakers are practicing with [kids] at home and getting them in that mindset.”
Clements said she appreciated that DPS has exceptional children services and their resources cater to all children.
“I myself have ADHD. I’m neurodiverse, so it’s really important to me to know what resources are available in the school system as my kids get older, if that becomes something that might affect their education,” she said.
Mia Khatib, who covers education at The Tribune, is a Report for America corps member.