COURTESY PHOTO - Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy principal Mary Derrick cuts the ribbon on the school’s new playground surrounded by school staff and CCISD superintendent Joe Burns and deputy superintendent Rick Kirkpatrick.COURTESY PHOTO - Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy students enjoy playing like they driving the car on the school’s new playground. Things like shifting gears on a car or scaling a climbing wall develop gross motor skills and require deliberate movement.

Mae Stevens cuts ribbon on new playground

Special to Leader-Press
A bus, a car, jungle gym and slide. CCISD’s youngest scholars squealed with excitement not knowing where to play first. Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy held a grand opening for its new playground with CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns and Deputy Superintendent Rick Kirkpatrick in attendance. Giant scissors and red ribbon courtesy of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce made the ceremony complete, said principal Mary Derrick.
“The opening of the playground has created a lot of excitement for the students and staff, on and off the playground,” Derrick said. “It has been the prompt for journal and writing activities and class discussions.”
Teacher Amanda Mobley’s PK4 class had many conversations about the process as students watched the old playground being torn down and the new one being built. When it came their turn, students tried to get the whole class on the bus feature located on the playground. They also enjoyed the rock climbing wall.
During a writing lesson with Joann Griffin, Coordinator of Early Education, students in teacher Kathy Doherty’s class said the playground was awesome and that they loved the twisty slide.
Teacher Robin Sutton said the playground offers learning lessons in a fun environment.
“It is great for language development and dramatic play,” Sutton said. “All of the kids had a blast. They really loved the car.”
Aaron Adame from teacher Marie Aponte’s PK4 class could not wait to return to the playground.
“It is awesome,” he said. “When can we go back?”
Teacher Shelli Thornton was excited to see there were so many things for the smaller children to reach and do. She said some of the kids aren’t ready for the climbing, but have plenty to play with at ground level.
Teacher Tyshonda Okere said the area offers more than a typical play area.
“The playground fosters the students’ imagination and allows them to use their senses while keeping them engaged in creative play,” Okere said.
Keegan Avera from teacher Cheryl Burn’s PK3 class said his favorite part was the car.
“You can drive it and everything,” he said.
Having access to playground equipment gives the children opportunity to explore their physical space and understand how their bodies function through active movement, Derrick said.
“Gross motor development requires thought and deliberate movement,” she said. “There isn’t a better way to meet these prekindergarten guidelines than shifting gears on a car or scaling a climbing wall.”
The CCISD Board of Trustees approved the money to build the playground using budgeted funds at the October, 2016 board meeting. Kirkpatrick worked with the leadership team at Mae Stevens to design the playground to meet the needs of all of the students. 

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