DCI’s LEAP Academy Celebrates A Year Of Innovation

This year was a very different year for DCI’s LEAP Academy –  It was filled with some challenges, big changes, and an abundance of innovation.

Preschool plays a vital role in the life of a young child. The developmental stage occurring during that point in life is important – children are growing in social emotional, cognitive, gross motor and fine motor skills. The COVID-19 pandemic affected childcare centers and preschools across the country, including DCI’s LEAP Academy. The LEAP Academy team decided to get creative and innovative this school year as they were challenged with the task of teaching students without a physical preschool. They had to put in a lot of hard work to ensure a successful school year so that their students would be ready for what was next in their educational journeys.

LEAP Academy was able to successfully serve families remotely for the first 7 months of the school year. 3- and 4-year-old students attended circle time, listened to books, and had break out rooms for small group activities four days a week via Zoom with the help of their wonderful parent or guardian who helped them navigate virtually. The LEAP Academy team supplied each student with a tablet and hot spot if needed and put together monthly kits with materials and newsletters for parents. They even held parent meetings to check in with families about questions and feedback they may have had regarding virtual learning. Because this school year was so different, they wanted to make sure families had that traditional preschool experience with their little one from their very own home.

For the last two months of school, LEAP was able to open to in-person small group learning and transitioned those students back into the building whose parents felt comfortable with them participating in-person. Meanwhile, they also accommodated a small group that were virtual for the remainder of the school year. The in-person students were elated to be back at school around their teachers and peers. This opportunity really allowed the LEAP Academy staff to teach more, observe more, and spend one-on-one time with the students. By coming back to in-person learning, LEAP Academy was even able to finish out the school year with a parking lot celebration for all of the hard work LEAP Academy students and parents put in to this year.

LEAP Academy had 15 students graduate from the program this year who will be kindergarten-ready in the fall. Despite the effects of COVID-19 on the school year, there were some big wins for the preschool. LEAP Academy staff were able to keep themselves and students safe from COVID-19 while completing the school year with a 72% kindergarten readiness rate! If it were not for the hard-working team of teachers, and dedicated, loving, supportive parents, DCI’s LEAP Academy preschool would not have been able to reach this amazing milestone. DCI is very proud of the work our LEAP Academy teachers and students did this year and is looking forward to a new school year in the fall! 

Open enrollment is live for the 2021-2022 LEAP Academy school year for 3- and 4-year-old students. Parents can contact Megan Pender, DCI LEAP Academy Preschool Manager, at megan.pender@dci-nc.org or (919)599-3766 or their advocate for more information.