A community outreach program received an award from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
The Baby Time, Toddler Time and Rhyme Time programs have received a Standing Up for Rural Schools, Libraries and Communities Award.
"I was thrilled and honored and humbled," said Traci Zietlow, who is the 4-year-old kindergarten teacher in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District.
She collaborates with staff at Weyauwega Public Library and Neuschafer Community Library to bring Baby Time, Toddler Time and Rhyme Time to those two libraries.
"I look forward to my Wednesdays and to being with the families and with the kids," Zietlow said. "It's nice to be out in the community, to provide something they're using that's working."
Her 4K classes meet at Fremont Elementary on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
On Wednesdays, Zietlow goes to the libraries, working with Kelly Kneisler in Weyauwega and with Susan Frick and Jill Kocovsky in Fremont.
"We are thrilled to win the award," said Frick. "When we started the programs for early childhood learning, it was with the understanding of how important it is for babies to start learning from birth and on."
In the Baby Time program, infants who are 3 months to 1 year old, get used to music and movement. There is a time for rhymes, stories and bonding with parents or caregivers.
Ages 1 to 3 attend the Toddler Time program, where music, movement, stories and crafts are integrated.
Rhyme Time is a program for children between the ages of 3 and 6. Zietlow said they focus on nursery rhymes and may act out those rhymes with props and songs.
Those three programs are held in Fremont, while in Weyauwega, Babygarten is offered for those age 2 and under and Rhyme Time is offered for the 3 to 6 year olds.
Zietlow said Babygarten rhymes are done at both libraries during the Baby and Toddler times, and that the programs also offer the opportunity for socialization for both the children and the parents.
The libraries offer a safe environment with many resources for parents.
"It's a great experience for the parents. They get to meet (the 4K) teacher in advance," Zietlow said. "They get resources, ideas to do at home."
She is both honored and humbled to be part of this award, because she said it was years in the making.
Retired W-F teachers Wendy Weiss and Sandra Smith started the program.
They are among those who have been invited to attend the March 12 awards ceremony in Madison.
"The district is extremely pleased that our 4-year-old kindergarten program, led by Traci Zietlow, has received the "Standing up for Rural Schools, Libraries and Communities" award from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Zietlow has worked hard and done an amazing job to refine and strengthen the Baby Time, Toddler Time and Rhyme Time community outreach programs that are an integral part of our 4K program," said Kirk Delwiche, who is the principal at Fremont and Weyauwega elementary schools.
He said the district appreciates the work that Weiss, Smith and others did to develop the program 13 years ago.
The staff of Weyauwega Public Library and Neuschafer Public Library also do a great job in collaborating and facilitating these activities, Delwiche said.
"It's great to know that this great program, our communities' public libraries and Zietlow are being recognized for the important work being done in helping our district's preschool-aged students and their parents prepare these children for their learning years in school. We couldn't be happier for all involved now and in the past with making this program a huge success," he said.
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