Meadow Crest Early Education Center prepares for first day

While all other schools in Renton began their first day of the 2013-2014 school year Tuesday, staff and construction crews were still busy putting the finishing touches on the district's Meadow Crest Early Education Center.

The new center officially begins its school year Monday, Sept. 9. This week teachers are meeting with parents and students of the former Spring Glen and Hillcrest Elementary schools, which are combining programs at Meadow Crest.

"It's beautiful coming from what we had to this; it's outstanding," said Becky Gilberg.

Gilberg brought her 3-year-old son Vann to Meadow Crest on Tuesday, to reconnect with his Hillcrest teacher, Erin Jacob. The teacher gave the mother and son a tour of the center, amidst construction activity throughout the brightly lit and colorful hallways. Jacob showed the mother and son the new library, with a small door, sized for the 3- and 4-year-old students; one of the indoor play courts, with brand new trikes and finally her classroom. Each classroom has a bathroom located adjacent to the room, with sinks and facilities at kid-level.

There is colorful pint-sized furniture, a rug and reading area in Jacob's room.Vann was a little apprehensive at first, hiding behind his mother while on the tour, but eventually warmed up to the room, once he discovered blocks and a train set.

"It's a great experience; the teachers are great here," said Gilberg. "They really care about what they're doing and the children that they have. I don't think I'd go anywhere else."

Gilberg met with Jacob, her son's teacher, discussing paperwork, bus transportation to the school and any special support or information pertinent to Vann.

"I think it's really nice this year being able to have the families come in and meet with us first," said Jacob. "And as you saw, it's a nice transition for the kids to come into the classroom, meet with us, one-on-one. And it's exciting getting the kids in. I think the building is coming along and everyday looks more and more ready."

The teacher, who worked in the old building, Hillcrest, is excited about the new library. The previous school's library was just a place to store books, she said. Jacob also was really impressed with the indoor play courts, but said there are so many features at Meadow Crest, it's hard to decide what is a favorite.

"Thanks to the voters for getting us this new building and the opportunity for the kids," she said. "It's huge."

Meadow Crest will educate 3- and 4-year-old students. Depending on the programs preschoolers will attend the center for two or three years. Head Start, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program or ECEAP and inclusive classes are all at Meadow Crest.

The center is designed to help students prepare for kindergarten. Meadow Crest's first day of school is Monday, Sept. 9. The school district and the City of Renton also have plans to build the city's first all-inclusive playground at the center this fall. It's being designed for accessibility, no matter what the child's physical or mental disability.

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