Two years ago, Sara’s son, Abraham, joined United Way of Lake County’s Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC). KCC is a free summer learning program for incoming kindergarten students who have little to no preschool experience. Abraham had not attended preschool and Sara wanted to give him an opportunity to prepare for entering kindergarten. Through the guidance and support of his KCC teachers, Abraham prepared for a successful start in kindergarten by building key kindergarten skills such as recognizing shapes, letters, counting and writing his name. In the KCC classroom environment, Abraham was able to interact and work with other students. And he learned and practiced positive classroom behavior like taking turns and raising his hand.

Today Abraham is 7 years old and is in second grade at Spaulding School in Gurnee. Abraham loves to read and loves to learn. He often says,

“I need to read more, so I can learn more!”

Each week, Abraham looks forward to library day to bring a new book home to read. “He wants to read the book every night at bedtime. And, he especially loves reading to his younger brother, Emiliano.”

This summer, Sara’s younger son, Emiliano, participated in the virtual KCC program for the Gurnee School District. The program included a virtual KCC Parent Event to educate parents about kindergarten readiness skills and provide information about the school including the school calendar, health requirements, attendance, school supplies, and teacher reports. Dr. Ellen E. Mauer, Principal of Spaulding Elementary School in Gurnee, joined the meeting to welcome the parents. Sara valued the opportunity to connect with the principal. “When Dr. Mauer took the time to meet with us, it showed us that she cares for the incoming students and their families. And, meeting her helped me see that she is just a normal person in a position of power.” Meeting Dr. Mauer at the virtual KCC Parent Event, gave Sara the confidence to introduce herself a couple of weeks later at an in-person school meet and greet, “She was a familiar face and I felt safe going to ask her for help about a transportation issue.”

When asked what she would tell other parents about KCC, Sara shared, “This is the best experience to have this opportunity. When I was a young child living in Mexico, I did not attend kindergarten and my family did not have these types of resources. Receiving this support for me and my kids, through Kindergarten Countdown Camp, is amazing."

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