“The Kenan Preschool was originally established to give students [from the Katherine Hamm Center] a chance to spend a short time each day in a mainstream preschool classroom to help them prepare to leave the speech school for the next step on their academic path,” she said.
The Hamm Center is a school under the Atlanta Speech School umbrella dedicated to infants and children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Besides the Hamm Center and the Kenan Preschool, the speech school also operates Stepping Stones — a therapeutic education school for young kids with speech and/or language delays — and the Wardlaw School — an elementary school for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities.
Propst said the focus for the Kenan Preschool, which currently enrolls about 70 students age 2 to 5, has evolved from its earliest days. Only a few children from the Hamm Center attend the preschool, which is now simply considered one of the leading early childhood literacy programs, she said.
Plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary have yet to be developed but the school recently hosted a group of 13 graduates from 2001 who now attend The Westminster Schools in Atlanta as seniors.
Propst said approximately 1,800 students have graduated from the preschool in 40 years.
The students at Kenan today are studying Thanksgiving, nutrition and Native Americans as their themes for the month. Propst said classes are reading books like “Stone Soup” and “The Great Turkey Race,” and students have vocabulary words such as “nutrition,” “tradition,” “cornucopia” and “inventory.”
“Activities to reinforce [their reading] are doing tastings for each food group, predicting what foods will taste like, graphing the results of the tasting [with] how many children like each food item and having a guest speaker on nutrition,” she said.
“They will set up a market and talk about money, write price tags and recipes, organize produce and go over the concept of buying and selling. They will also recreate ‘The Great Turkey Race’ using puppets, make pilgrim hats, draw turkeys, build a scarecrow and weave Indian corn.”
At the end of the month, Kenan preschoolers will participate in a Thanksgiving feast, which Propst said has been a tradition for many years.