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  • Writer's pictureEthan Hoffman

Inspiring the Next Generation--Teens and Tots Allows Students to Learn from Each Other

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

Children in the Teens and Tots program play with each other alongside high school students. (Photo by Ethan Hoffman)

By Ethan Hoffman & Jaelin Lomax--Eagle Staff Writers

In America, approximately 1.6 million children are enrolled into preschool every year, according to PBS.

A handful of these kids come to campus every day the same as teenage Eagles.

Unbeknownst to many, FCHS has its own preschool program in the Tech A building.

Teens and Tots is an elective class that helps FCHS students with an interest in teaching children.

“The high school students are in an early childhood development class. They are learning how to work with kids and how to teach them,” teacher Jessica Leftwich began.

This program seems to be a favorite for both high schoolers and preschoolers.

“It depends on the year but we usually have a pretty good amount of children,” Leftwich explained. “Some get signed up when they aren’t even born yet. [Among FCHS students] it’s been a very popular program lately. The program started in ‘89 and has never had an issue of students not electing to take the class from what I remember.”

Some may worry the preschoolers participating in Teens and Tots are in a daycare rather than a preschool, but Leftwich and her students give their tots a unique and educational experience every year.

“It is a popular misconception with the Teens and Tots program that we just watch teachers’ and students’ children, like a daycare, but we are not a daycare,” Leftwich specified. “We are preparing the children for kindergarten and teaching them fine and gross motor skills.”

Leftwich has a long history with the Teens and Tots program, as she was a teen teacher in the program while she attended FCHS. Coincidentally, she now has some high school students who were tots in the program growing up.

“I loved Teens and Tots as a kid," junior Zanihya Witcher recalled. "I made friends. It was just an awesome experience. I get the same feeling I did back then watching the kids. [The only difference is] it is a lot more active now, less nap times.”

Students interested in joining the Teens and Tots program must successfully complete Early Childhood Development 1 as a prerequisite before selecting Teens and Tots during schedule application.

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