A Classroom Without Students

One key element is missing from NASH’s Preschool Practicum class.


photo by Lucie Flagg

In the absences of preschoolers, NASH’s Preschool Practicum is finding creative ways to educate.

Lucie Flagg, Co-Editor-in-Chief

It’s not an uncommon occurrence—you’re sitting in class and hear voices echoing from down the hall. As the sound travels closer and closer, you look out the door of your classroom to see 18 preschoolers.

In recent years, NASH’s Preschool Practicum course has become a fan-favorite among the senior class. Enrollment in the course offers seniors the opportunity to explore child development by running a real, interactive preschool program with children in the district.

This year, however, seniors were shocked to see the course missing one crucial element—the preschoolers themselves.  With the ongoing spread of COVID-19, the district has made the decision to close the preschool program until further notice.. 

“Unfortunately, at this time we do not have the preschoolers coming in,” said Ms. Loeffert, the course teacher. “This was to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the program.”

While this decision was made in the best interest of community health, it was greeted with disappointment by students when they learned of the policy last Tuesday, the first day of school.

“I was disappointed at first, but I understand why the decision was made,” said senior Sophia Elliott. “I would hate to infect a child with the virus, or vice-versa.”

With the hopes of eventually welcoming the preschoolers back, the class has resumed with the traditional curriculum. Seniors in the class spent their first week coloring and learning about sensory development, and Loeffert has many more projects in the works.

“Even without the kids, most of the course material is still very beneficial to seniors,” she said. “It is just unfortunate that they can’t apply this knowledge to a live practicum experience at this time.”

Recent North Allegheny graduate Morgan Cima, Class of ’20, participated in the program last year and sympathizes with those who have lost such a unique part of their day.

“My favorite aspect of the class was spending time with the preschoolers,” said Cima. “They helped ease my worries of tests and assignments throughout my day.  However, I have confidence that the teachers will still plan a wonderful semester, trying to fill the gap left by the preschoolers.”

Sophia Elliott works on a design for a classroom bulletin board. (photo by Lucie Flagg)

Although some seniors were let down by the course adjustment, many are trying to continue with a positive attitude in the class.

Not having actual preschoolers will definitely be a struggle, but it may give us a better opportunity to learn about how children develop,” Elliott added. “Even though it won’t necessarily be hands-on work, I’m confident we’ll still be able to learn and have a good time in class.”

Senior Emily Lagnese hangs up paper for her group’s bulletin board. (photo by Lucie Flagg)

Because the majority of the adjustments needed are in response to social distancing guidelines, the students are still able to participate in many fun activities. This week, the classes are working on designing and building bulletin boards, and they plan to tie-dye next week.

“We are hopeful that things will improve and the preschoolers can return to school in January,” said Loeffert.

With high hopes, the seniors enrolled in Preschool Practicum will continue to work, with or without students.