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Aim for Success at an Early Age


Junior Kindergarten at Marymount

Success breeds success, isn’t that the expression? Even if the expression is misstated, it is certainly the case for Marymount’s Junior Kindergarten program. Started in 2009 to fill the particular needs of the “older fours and younger fives” who are ready for more than a traditional pre-school program, but not quite ready for kindergarten, the Marymount program quickly gained a reputation as a fast track to not only kindergarten readiness, but to ensuring that children are a “leg up” in school. Most JK students at Marymount can read by the end of the school year, putting Marymount JK graduates in a prime position for an accelerated track forward, not only in fundamental skills like reading, math and science, but in classroom readiness, peer relations, physical coordination, confidence and self awareness. Through a balance of purposeful, hands-on exploration and direct instruction, Marymount teachers lay a foundation for academic success. With the goal of creating life-long learners, students are encouraged to listen carefully, ask questions, engage in conversations, create stories, and develop solutions to real life problems.

Anna Belitski, who is the lead teacher of Marymount’s dynamic Junior Kindergarten program, is a specialist in the Kindergarten and Junior Kindergarten age group and worked for several years with California Reading and Literature Project helping to train teachers in methods to improve teaching and student outcomes. “Helping students get the right start in school is incredibly important,” says the energetic and quick to smile Belitski, “if you can give students the tools they need early on, their path forward is close to guaranteed. Teachers need to be aware of the changing skills that will be necessary for students to be able to thrive in the future. Marymount instills those skills—even the ones that might not be immediately obvious as necessary—and it starts in Junior

It is not all reading, writing and arithmetic for Marymount Junior Kindergarten students. Art, music, computers and dance are a regular part of the Junior Kindergarten students’ school schedules. So is scaling climbing walls, riding tricycles and trying to hit tennis balls over the nets on Marymount’s tennis courts. Of special note is the popularity of the junior kindergarten students in Marymount’s “buddy program,” a cross-grade-level-mentoring program. Last year’s 7th grade class felt especially privileged to be paired with the Junior Kindergarten students and helped initiate the youngest Marymount students to school events like the Science Fair, Buddy Barbeques, Poetry Week, school plays,
various school assemblies and Field Day.

As the last precious weeks of summer pass before kids across town will be returning to school, Anna Belitski eagerly awaits her students and prepares her classroom. She considers it a part of her job to not only prepare JK students with a strong academic foundation, but with the building blocks for future leadership, the ability to make friends
and collaborate with others to meet common goals. The result of this curriculum and the fact that the program is an entrée into Marymount’s lower and then middle school program has led the Marymount Junior Kindergarten program to be competitive to enter. The number of applications exceeds the number of available spots. But the real success
of the program is a direct result of the success of the students themselves. This success could not have been more apparent than at last year’s JK graduation. Clad in the tiniest caps and gowns imaginable, JK students beamed with pride at their accomplishments and eagerly spoke into the microphone at the ceremony.

Marymount is an independent coeducational school, junior kindergarten through 8th grade, on a picturesque 10-acre campus nestled on the Santa Barbara Riviera. For nearly 75 years, Marymount has prepared young people for the academic challenges of high school and college, while laying the foundation for life-long character, achievement, and
love of learning.

If you are interested in learning more about Marymount or scheduling a tour, please contact the Admission Office at or (805) 569-1811 x 131 immediately. Select spaces and scholarships are still available.

[AUTHOR: Molly Seguel]

May 12, 2014

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