On Feb. 12, North Buncombe High School officially opened its new preschool classroom. Using a grant from Buncombe County’s Early Childhood Fund, the new space will not only provide high-quality preschool for 14 children; it will also act as a learning lab for more early childhood educators. Currently, nine high school students are assisting licensed teachers with day-to-day operations in the new facility, giving them hands-on experience in the school's Early Childhood Education course.
Commissioners Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Robert Pressley, and Al Whitesides were on hand for the official dedication. The Board of Commissioners has been working to provide high-quality preschool spaces across the County as one of its top priorities. “What a joyous and exciting day,” exclaimed Commissioner Beach-Ferrara. “This is 100% what we had in mind when we started the conversation about increasing the commitment to early childhood education and bolstering our workforce. We are working to fulfill the promise every child has an equal chance to strive.”
Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin also addressed the crowd noting how the Early Childhood Education course will help remove obstacles young professionals have as they strive toward working in preschools. “I want to recognize the Commissioners… I’ve heard you talk about this, and you have a passion for it. It would not have been made possible without you,” noted Baldwin.
In all, Buncombe County Schools was awarded $400,000 for the current fiscal year through the County’s Early Childhood Fund. The North Buncombe High School model of using the preschool space to enrich the Career and Technical Education program is already in place at three other County high schools: Erwin, Reynolds, and Roberson.
In June 2019, the Early Childhood Fund grants were announced, and the school system has expedited the opening of the North Buncombe preschool space. In just seven months, staff renovated the building, created a new playground, installed equipment and furnishings, attained child care licensure, hired qualified staff, enrolled attendees, and started the high school curriculum for future early educators. Buncombe County is proud to have helped create these 14 preschool spaces while facilitating a learning environment for our future preschool teachers.