Egremont Elementary Pre-K Students Perform ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

Egremont Elementary Pre-K Students Perform ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

Egremont Elementary Pre-K Students Perform ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The prekindergarten students of Egremont Elementary School made their stage debut on Tuesday with a delightful performance of Eric Carle’s beloved story, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” The event took place in the school cafeteria, where district administration, school committee members, and families gathered to witness the young students’ transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Elaine Hunter, the teacher of the inclusive prekindergarten classroom, has been implementing the Reader’s Theater curriculum since her days as a first-grade teacher at Egremont Elementary in 2017. This year, she brought this engaging curriculum to her pre-k class, which includes both typical and special needs students.

Hunter emphasized that teaching in an inclusive classroom involves recognizing and nurturing each student’s unique strengths and weaknesses. She noted that the Reader’s Theater curriculum allows all students to shine on stage, making it difficult to distinguish between typical and special needs students.

Some students who were nonverbal before joining Hunter’s class proudly raised their voices during the performance. Hunter highlighted the numerous benefits of the event, including building fluency through repeated readings, involving reluctant readers and speakers, and allowing children to deeply understand the story by acting it out multiple times. These activities are crucial for reading success.

In pre-k, the Reader’s Theater curriculum has provided opportunities for collaboration, active listening, academic curiosity, and confidence-building. Hunter explained that the curriculum aligns with the district’s educational goals, bringing to life the skills and concepts taught throughout the year.

Previously, Hunter used works by American illustrator and writer Jan Brett for her first graders. This year, she chose Eric Carle’s work, feeling it would resonate well with prekindergarten students.

Assistant Superintendent Marisa Mendonsa praised the event for giving students a sense of pride and allowing their families to see them perform. She noted that it boosts the students’ confidence and helps them see themselves as future kindergarteners.

Hunter invited school committee members to the performance to showcase the importance and impact of teachers’ work, especially in light of recent budget cuts. The committee members were impressed, with Vice Chairman Daniel Elias describing the event’s impact as profound, particularly for students who were previously nonverbal.

Chairman William Cameron echoed this sentiment, stating that the event instilled confidence in the students, allowing them to stand up and be heard. Hunter expressed her gratitude for working in an environment where her innovative ideas are valued and supported by administrators.

Superintendent Joseph Curtis remarked that the performance and video reminded everyone of the district’s true purpose: supporting and educating students while involving their families. He emphasized that, despite the challenges faced by the educational institution, the core mission remains to support students and their families.

School Committee member Sarah Hathaway commended the Pittsfield Public Schools Administration Center staff for diligently choosing the right curriculum. She noted that the district’s play-based curriculum in preschools has shown that children who go through the Pittsfield Pre-K program are better prepared for kindergarten.

Hathaway expressed excitement about expanding the Pre-K program in the coming years, with support from the governor’s funding to offer more children this valuable experience.

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