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Vallejo schools, students, teachers cross bridge into new school year

08.21.2012 | Vallejo Times-Herald | Sarah Rohrs

As she stood with other parents at Cooper Elementary on Monday, Kimberly Young said she had a tiny bit of anxiety about having her little girl go off to her very first day of school.

But the good things of the day far outweighed any negatives, she said.

“It’s good for her. She’s going to make new friends,” Young said.

Her daughter, Alisha Bingham is not just attending her first year of school, but is part of a new kindergarten class unveiled at Cooper, Glen Cove and Elsa Widenmann elementary schools in Vallejo.

Called transitional kindergarten, classes are for younger children and designed to serve as a bridge to regular classes and prepare youngsters for school, officials said.

Thousands of parents and children crossed the bridge into a new school year Monday as Vallejo City Unified School District unrolled new academies, classes and a new positive-based discipline program.

“A big focus on us is to really, really, really remember is that all the kids are all our kids,” Loma Vista Elementary Principal Dolly McInnes said. “Every adult has responsibility for every student.”

Another underlying message that educators will give is that every child has potential for college or other dreams beyond school, McInnes said.

As Cooper Elementary principal Susan Walls walked briskly through her campus Monday morning she pointed out similar messages designed to bolster esteem and confidence, including one on a door that read “We Are College-bound 2nd Graders.”

Monday was Walls’ first day as Cooper’s principal. She said she is excited about the transitional kindergarten program, the new year, and the new discipline program.

Named Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies, the program emphasizes acknowledgment of children, and encourages adults to focus on and reinforce positive behaviors in children rather than the opposite behaviors that get them into trouble.

As the morning got underway, several youngsters clutched new backpacks, wore new clothes and shoes and were definitely eager to get started.

First grader Harmony Davis said she’s looking forward to learning more math while kindergartner Christian Frias said he wants to read, color and make crafts.

A 1988 graduate of Cooper, parent Robert Dickerson said he’s proud his son Gianni Deleon is attending his old school.

As she got packets of information ready for the new transitional kindergarten class, Cooper teacher Terri Corkrean said the class is meant to build a solid foundation for youngsters as they start their journey through school.

Father David Salais and wife Tiffinie brought in their daughter Bella for her first day in the transitional class. She beamed with both shyness and excitement as she took her seat and fingered some packets of clay.

“I think this is awesome,” Salais said of the new class. “It’s great for them to get ready for school like this.”

Corkrean and other teachers have been attending workshops and getting classrooms ready for weeks, she said.

Hector Vizuet was one little boy in the class eager to get going as he sat at a child-sized table and began building a structure with Lego-like materials.

Parents Kalina Anderson and Ed Ford said they had some mixed feelings about the transitional kindergarten program and wanted to get more concrete information and details.

Despite their concerns, Ford said “We’re confident she’ll do well here.”

Nearby at Loma Vista, students were settling in for the day and learning more about how many of their learning experiences will soon take place at the nearby Loma Vista Farm as part of a new academy.

This is the first year the school has become a magnet school and has also added a sixth-grade as part of the efforts to turn Loma Vista into a K-8 school.

“We’re really excited about this year,” McInnes said.

Times-Herald staff reporter Lanes Christian BaƱes contributed to this report. Contact staff writer Sarah Rohrs at srohrs@timesheraldonline.com or (707) 553-6832.

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