Discovery Corner certainly seems to be a fitting name for the preschool in operation three days a week during the spring semester at Hinsdale Central.
For the 40 Central students from two class sections of childcare and development, the preschool for children ages 3-5 offers the opportunity for a hands-on experience to go along with class discussions, planning and reading.
And for the little children in the class, Discovery Corner offers an early experience with school and social interaction with their peers.
“This really gives our high school students the real-life element, which is so important,” said Lisa Sopiarz, the teacher of the childcare and development class. “Some of them already are sure they want to be teachers or do something else that allows them to work with children, but others aren’t sure and are trying to maybe find out by taking this class.
“The big thing with the little kids is that we want them to feel comfortable with a new experience and the socialization. We really want them to have a positive experience because this does effect how they feel about going to school.”
Sopiarz said Central students make lesson plans in preparation for preschool sessions from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the spring semester.
Each day of preschool, the Central students rotate between teaching, working as aides in the classroom and observing in an adjacent room that has one-way glass. Art, dramatic plays, music, science and exploration, and stories are among the focuses of activities in the classroom.
And it doesn’t take long inside the Discovery Corner classroom to see that everyone involved is having a positive experience.
“This school is good,” said Brady Hannigan, 4. “I like making art projects and listening to stories.”
And Brady also likes his teachers.
“They do fun things with us,” he said. “Sometimes, we even switch teachers because they might have to go to a meeting or even a birthday party.”
Brady’s mom, Emily Hannigan, thinks the Discovery Preschool is a great opportunity for everyone involved.
“He always asks me about the high school when we drive by, so I asked him if he wanted to go there,” she said. “He’s having a great time, and it is great that the kids enjoy coming here, and the high school students get to have the experience.”
Three-year-old Phoebe Riordan also was vocal about enjoying her time at the Discovery Corner preschool.
“I like to play games, and I like that the teachers play games with me,” she said. “It’s fun, and we even get to talk about pigs. I like pigs; they go in the mud and roll around.”
Kelly Konstant is a Central junior who plans to become a special education teacher.
“I need to have experience, and this is a good place to start with it,” she said. “We get to actually learn how to work with kids because we’re doing it. I had no I could do this in a class here, but it’s great, and I love watching the kids react to new things.”
Central senior Callie Helsley isn’t certain she wants to pursue a career as a teacher, but still thought the experience would be beneficial.
“I remember being in preschool and liking it,” she said. “I babysit a lot and probably will do something with kids, even though I’m not sure, yet, what it will be.”