Robinson students jumpstart their kindergarten experience


Robinson Elementary School students sprinted away from the starting line of their Lincoln Public Schools learning journey this summer with three days full of smiling moments.
Dozens of students filled the building with happy sounds July 18-20 during Robinson’s first kindergarten Jumpstart program. They explored their classrooms, completed fun activities and made many new friends throughout the three days.
Principal Jeff Vercellino said he was excited to see the incoming class of Robinson kindergarteners enjoy Jumpstart activities. He felt the entire experience was valuable for students, parents and teachers in many ways.
“It’s been a lot of fun these three days,” Vercellino said. “Seeing the smiles on the faces of all of the kids and the parents is something that’s pretty special. It’s been a great way for them to make connections and learn what it’s like to be going to school here.”
Kindergarten teacher Shelby Rush also expressed gratitude for getting to take part in Jumpstart activities. Rush has been teaching students for nine years, but this summer marked the first time she had taken part in a three-day Jumpstart program. She said the longer timeframe helped students become more comfortable with everything related to kindergarten.
“It’s been really fun,” Rush said. “We just get to know them and get to show them that we’re a community here, which is super important.”
LPS parents enroll their children in Jumpstart programs each July as a way to better acquaint them with their new schools. Children meet kindergarten teachers, learn names of future classmates, become familiar with their classroom and gain insight about what a typical school day will be like. They also learn what is expected of them when it comes to behavior such as listening, sharing and being kind to others.
This year was the first time for the Jumpstart program at the newest LPS elementary school. LPS voters approved construction of the 85,000-square-foot building as part of the 2020 bond referendum. Work began on the school in May 2021 and students started taking classes at 1350 North 102nd St. in August 2022.
Robinson houses students through fifth grade and has a capacity of 528. The building was named in recognition of Ada Robinson, who was a highly-respected former LPS educator. She taught at Clinton Elementary School for 37 years.
Vercellino said he watched the confidence level of Robinson students rise as they journeyed from day one to day three of Jumpstart. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with all of the emotions that are part of the first traditional day of school, kindergarteners will now be familiar with simple things such as knowing the names of others.
“I think it’s definitely going to help them feel more comfortable here when they do come on the first day of school,” Vercellino said. “It’s allowed the students to make connections with their peers, and it’s helped the teachers feel more connected with all of the students too. It’s been a good experience for everyone.”
Two of the newest Robinson Raptors are Barrett and Gracie. Both wore bright smiles as they talked about what they had already learned from being at Jumpstart.
“I learned no running except for outside, and no climbing up the slides,” Gracie said.
“We have to sit crisscross, applesauce,” Barrett said. “Then you’re not bothering anyone.”
Barrett and Gracie both spent time in Rush’s classroom during the morning of July 20. Rush began one lesson by having students sit down in a circle and tell everyone what their favorite color was. She then praised them when they waited quietly to hear what the next activity would be.
“You haven’t even started school yet and you know what to do,” Rush said. “Good job!”
Students listened to Rush read a children’s book called “Chrysanthemum” that talked about the importance of treating others well. As they paid attention to the book, they could see the phrase “You are smart, you are brave, you are kind, you are strong, you are loved” taped on the front wall.
Rush read the story with a variety of expressions and helped students understand the meanings of many words. She then asked them to find large nametags that were placed on their desks. Students discovered they would be able to decorate their names using colored markers.
Elyse, Morgan, Evey, Temrey, Kolten and Gracie sat together at one group of desks, and Zoey, Jordyn and Amelia were at another. Amelia showed concentration as she filled in each letter of her name with a different color. She chose pink, orange, red, yellow, green and purple markers for her project.
Rush then picked up each nametag and brought them to the front of the room. She used a computer projector to display each nametag to the students, which further solidified the idea that every child is part of a large Robinson family.
Rush said fostering a sense of community and inclusion was one of the top goals she had for the Jumpstart program. She said if students could take off from the starting line of their LPS careers realizing they are accepted and valued, then they would enjoy more success in every educational activity.
“I want them to know without a doubt that they belong here,” Rush said.

Published: August 10, 2023, Updated: August 10, 2023