The Joy of Kindergarten Awaits New Students

We’re prepared to continue health and safety protocols already in place for as long as it’s necessary.

  • Friday, April 2, 2021 5:36pm
  • Opinion
Rebecca Goertzel

Rebecca Goertzel

As a child’s first experience of school, kindergarten can set the tone for a student’s life-long attitude about education.

For that reason, we at Chautauqua Elementary School plan very carefully for kindergarten enrollment each year. We can do our best preparation when all prospective kindergarteners are enrolled by April 30. That gives us time to staff our kindergarten classrooms with amazing quality teachers and support staff sufficient to create the best possible experience for our kids. It also enables us to group children with their friends and balances our classes.

This year – 2021-22 – is unique in that the pandemic has cut off some of our access to new kindergarteners and their parents. Most years, we get information about kindergarten-ready children from Island childcare centers. This year, however, many childcare centers have been closed so we are reaching out to parents of new kindergarteners through public media, like The Beachcomber. We’re hoping for full days of in-person kindergarten this fall, and we’re prepared to continue health and safety protocols already in place for as long as it’s necessary.

We’re inviting parents of kindergarten-ready students to enroll their children who will be five years old by September 1, 2021. And we’re asking you to sign them up now. It’s simple online at Contact Kelly Murphy in the Chautauqua office at with your questions. Or call her at 206-463-2882 to complete enrollment by phone. To arrange before and after school care, parents can enroll with Vashon Kids at Vashon Youth & Family Services at

This year’s kindergarteners returned successfully – and happily – to in-person classes in March. It warmed my heart to watch them arrive that morning, some on their first school bus rides. Despite their obvious excitement, each child wore their mask, practiced social distancing and washed their hands as instructed by their teachers. The kindergarten teachers were almost as excited as the students to be back in the classroom.

We were nervous to make this transition and extremely pleased with how well it is going. (We now have PreK through grade 5 in the building in a half-day program (AM/PM cohorts) with small class sizes and social distancing.

At the same time, we have maintained distance learning in one classroom per grade level to meet the needs of our community. We are proud of the distance learning program we created and are also impressed and excited with our in-person schooling this spring.

Kindergarten at CES is already top quality with math and literacy learning in small groups, daily projects in art, crafts and drama. Teachers emphasize collaboration in all activities to prepare kids for teamwork and build their social-emotional skills. Physical activity and play are key with three daily recess times, a weekly ‘forest’ time, and project play. We offer support in academic areas, social-emotional support, and English Language Learning. We also have weekly classes in art, music, physical education, Spanish and library.

We are keenly aware of our role in the lives of Vashon families. We work daily to assure Chautauqua students receive the best in education as well as the social and emotional support they need to thrive as students and as individuals.

Our kindergarten teachers are innovators in their field, and they work as a team to keep classes fresh, lively and stimulating.

Rebecca Goertzel is the principal of Chautauqua Elementary School.

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