Sequim Gazette staff
Dr. Cynthia Martin, founder of First Teacher, said she will move the parent-and-child learning program from the Community School by the end of July.
Where the program might end up, she doesn’t know.
Martin said the move is particularly painful because the program purchased and installed the playground equipment next to its facility.
Finding a similar facility is unlikely, Martin said. The chances of finding one the program can afford are even more remote. The district had long provided First Teacher with the space at no cost.
“We can’t afford space. That’s just the way it happens to be,” she said.
She explained the importance of the program, saying, “A child who is read to every day is at a great advantage over a child whose parents don’t read him books regularly. Even issues like talking about math terms such as more, less, over, under, large and small, help a child begin to understand these terms before school. Counting and sounding out letters should begin before school begins.”
Paula Cunningham, Washington Service Corps Literacy Program coordinator, noted, “We’ve had over 1,100 individual visits to the First Teacher room just since Jan. 1.”
The move was required by the Sequim School Board, which in January voted to close down 80 percent of the deteriorating facility. By September only the Olympic Peninsula Academy will remain at the school. The academy will be housed in the school’s circa 1979 addition and the school’s commons area.
First Teacher isn’t the only program that was required to leave. Head Start, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Snap, Peninsula College’s GED and English Language Learners programs also lost their place at the school.
Not giving up
Martin, who has run the program for 22 years, said she’s not giving up.”Our biggest goal is to get out the newsletter. The second goal is space.”
First Teacher newsletters are widely distributed in Clallam County, providing helpful tips for parents on how they can be their children’s first, and most important, teacher. Martin said 82 percent of all Clallam families with children now receive the newsletter.
“Parents play a major role before a child even enters school,” she added.
For more information, call 681-2250.