With a dedicated staff and a teddy bear turned book star, Danbury prepares children for kindergarten

Danbury – When I started Danbury Prefab 25 years ago, it served 75 children in five classrooms, helping young children prepare for kindergarten.

Since then, more than 10,000 preschoolers have participated through the programme, which funds more than 400 preschool places in 33 classrooms and serves more than 1,000 children in the Danbury area.

With the help of dedicated staff—and most recently an adorable teddy bear who became a children’s book star—the program helped children feel comfortable with the school environment, while largely supporting lower-income residents.

Ninety-two percent of families enrolled in the program are from Danbury, while 83 percent of families earn less than 75 percent of the state’s median income.

The program has been a hit when it comes to the achievement gap, with children from lower-income families who join the program tending to excel. The same is true for students who speak English as a second language.

“We found that children who came from English Language Learners (ELL) had the fastest growth compared to children who did not learn English. “They still haven’t quite made it to dominant English speakers on all criteria, but their growth has been phenomenal, like rising in a straight line,” said Eileen Costello, School Readiness Coordinator. It’s astronomical when they’re on a quality program. The achievement gap is narrowing.”

Program members were honored August 26 by elected officials during the annual Early Childhood Day for their contributions to the program. This included a teacher who created a children’s book for students and others who advocated for the program.

Bearington Bear

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