Eau Claire 4 Launched Wednesday in Public Schools

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Teachers, you might become a little jealous when you hear this, but Jane Wisner has got lots of teacher's aides in her classroom.

"It's really interesting to watch them help each other," she said.

The helpers are usually older...the "helpees" mostly younger.

That's how it's done at the Children's House Montressori School, one of 19 sites for "Eau Claire 4 Tomorrow."

"That lays the best foundation for learning," said Public School Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster.

Starting next Tuesday, the four-year olds Jane teaches will be part of the district's first community-wide kindergarten for kids that age, although things won't seem much different than they are for this class.

"They truly care about children and families," said Program Coordinator Paula Wainscott.

The kids will be in school for at least 437 hours a year; Jane's for three hours a day.

To help keep from losing their attention for all that time, they're constatnly moving...different classrooms, different subjects, different teachers. Each kid has a magnet that goes right outside the door of the room they happen to be in.

Jane's employer will help shoulder two-thirds of the financial burden of the effort this year. By the fall of 08', it'll be 100% reimbursed by the state.

"Children are ready to learn things much earlier than we thought, and they learn best in an active exploritory environment," Wainscott said.

"We have a lot of sensorial items and we have words and letters," Jane said.

Parts of the lesson plan she's sure to get help teaching from her students in a mixed-age environment.

"The best part for me is to see their faces when they've accomplished something."

She's confident the smiles on 40 faces this school year, will lead to plenty more smiling at school in the years ahead.