Memphis Junior Academy (MJA) is a small school. When first entering the building, you pass the office and, if not paying attention, the science classroom tucked in next door might be missed. To the right are three other classrooms. But, at the very end of the corridor lies something special.
Upon entering it is evident that this room is not just any classroom. It has been designed with a specific purpose and audience in mind. The tables are shorter, with chairs that accommodate the smallest of bodies. The room is splashed with happiness and wonder. This is not a regular classroom. This is the pre-K/kindergarten classroom.
MJA is one of five schools in the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference that have a pre-K/K classroom. This may not be the class where big tests are given, but it is the class where children fall in love with learning. Many of the students at MJA began their school experience in this classroom, including three graduating eighth-graders.
For many children this classroom is their first experience outside of their homes. Their teacher will be the first person, besides their family, to have an opportunity to shape and influence them. This is the first time that they will become part of a “tribe” with peers rather than relatives. These are the years where children learn to “do school.” Pre-K/K is about discovery — this incredible world, how it all works together, and the Father in Heaven who created each child.
Rather than learning from textbooks, much of the learning is done in quick, hands-on segments. This audience does not have a very long attention span, and the teacher often feels like she is putting on an eight-hour variety show. When learning about dogs, it is no surprise to see the teacher’s Labrador has come for a visit. When it is time to explain what bones are for, don’t be surprised to see the budding biologists gloved up and dissecting rotisserie chickens. There is also singing, laughing, and downright silliness that comes out of this room. Listen closely: That is not just a silly song about Noah … those little voices are actually counting by twos and not even realizing it.
Kentucky-Tennessee | November 2018