Students are beginning their third week at a first-of-its kind preschool in Sioux Falls. Learning Adventures is a private preschool in a public school building, located at Harvey Dunn Elementary, on the east side of the city.
The historical significance might be lost on the kids right now.
"I love it! I think it's really cool," Learning Adventures parent Rachelle Brust said
But the parents of this first class of Learning Adventures preschool couldn't be more proud.
"There's always things that you have to work out and a little bit of bugs, but it's kind of cool knowing that she was the first taking part in it and she's kind of historical, if you will," Brust said.
Rachelle Brust's 4-year-old daughter Kennedy is enjoying her brush with history.
"She loves it. She loves the atmosphere, she loves getting to play with kids every day. She likes the stories. We're always going to the bookstore and I always get to hear about the stories that we read in class," Brust said.
The students at Learning Adventures are spending their first weeks of preschool adjusting to a classroom routine.
"When we lay the groundwork in the first couple of weeks in our classroom they know what to expect and it makes everything flow a little more smoothly all year long," Learning Adventures teacher Amy Forster said.
The students are also working on their basic reading and math skills.
"We have children that are everywhere from not entirely sure how to read their names to picking out words and being able to read a lot of environmental print around the room to pick out things they see around us. So we just make sure we meet them where they're at," Forster said.
The preschool pays for itself through a tuition of $119 per student every two weeks. Kids are enrolling far beyond the Harvey Dunn neighborhood.
"It's not exclusive to this side of town. We have parents that drive from the other side of town, it might be a good place according to their work location," Harvey Dunn Elementary principal Teresa Boysen said.
Renovations to Harvey Dunn last year opened up extra classroom space. And the hope is to double the size of the pre-school as soon as the next school year.
"We already have four on the waiting list for next year so it's not even October and we have four to enroll next year, that's a good sign," Boysen said.
But there are still openings for this year's morning and afternoon sessions. Administrators say the preschool has to prove itself to boost enrollment.
"I think we need to earn our reputation. Harvey Dunn has a good reputation. But this is a new adventure for us, Learning Adventures preschool, and so once the word-of-mouth gets out that it is a good program," Boysen said.
Parents say the preschool's location inside Harvey Dunn is a strong drawing card.
"I really wanted to go more for school environment and less of a day care-type atmosphere," Brust said.
Administrators say a school setting like this better prepares students for kindergarten because much of what they learn here dovetails into lesson they'll learn a year from now. An opportunity to advance seamlessly onto their next learning adventure, wherever that may take them.
"It's just delightful to see these little friends come every day and they've added a new dimension to our building," Boysen said.
Forster says, like most preschoolers, the Learning Adventures kids were quiet and reserved those first few days of class. But as you just saw, the students have since opened-up and are much more comfortable in their new classroom surroundings.
If you'd like to enroll your child, just call Harvey Dunn Elementary at (605) 371-4120. Students don't have to live within the Sioux Falls school district to enroll.