image : Highland SD Pre-K Counts students present a winter program.
Highland SD Pre-K Counts students present a winter program.

A pre-K classroom in the Highlands School District recently scored very high on an internationally recognized scale that measures students’ development — Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale. According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Marian Ayres’ half-day pre-K class at Grandview Elementary scored 95% on the assessment, which measures the broad range of needs for children ages 3 to 4, including cognitive, social-emotional, physical, and health and safety. The half-day program is funded by the state’s pre-K Counts program and emphasizes learning through play. Ayres, a longtime teacher with the district, has secured several grants allowing the children to go on several field trips such as one to the Harrison Hills Park Environmental Learning Center, where they planted flowers and a dogwood tree. In addition to learning strong foundational skills such as the alphabet, counting to 100 and writing their names, the children also have guest speakers from different cultures who teach them about places around the world. The district is hoping to expand the program in the future.