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The Orangeburg County School District will offer the Waterford UPSTART Family Engagement Program during the next school year, providing its earliest learners with additional support to ensure kindergarten readiness.

The district is inviting the parents and guardians of all 4-year-olds to register for the district’s pre-kindergarten program. It says the program, combined with Waterford UPSTART at home, will prepare students for kindergarten.

“Every child should enter their first classroom on day one, confident and ready to learn,” OCSD Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said. “All individuals have the capacity to grow at every stage in their life, but childhood academic experiences are exceptionally critical for setting a lifetime learning path.

“We are excited to have this learning model offered at OCSD, as it personalizes support for families, to help every child start school strong, ready for academic success.”

Waterford UPSTART will provide 4-year-olds with engaging and personalized lessons in reading, early math and science (with a focus on reading) in just 30 minutes a day.

Other students in the home will also be able to use the program through individual logins.

The program will be paid for by the S.C. Department of Education for the first year at no cost to the parents or district. The department is committed to investing at least $1 million for Orangeburg County’s students, and is prepared to increase the support above that as student numbers increase, according to the district.

State funding could also be available for the program in future years.

As part of a memorandum of understanding, OCSD will implement the Waterford UPSTART learning model, parents/guardians will participate in support sessions and receive one-on-one support, and the district will provide feedback to the state department on the program’s impact.

Waterford UPSTART is now being offered in 15 states, serving more than 300,000 children annually through at-home and in-school programs.

The T&D contributed to this report.

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