History

In the early 1990s, teachers noticed that children in poverty entered kindergarten or grade one lacking many social, language, and learning skills.  Sometimes their educational opportunities were minimal, their health jeopardized, and their self esteem low.  As a result, these students were behind before they even got started.

In 1991, four fully-funded preschools were formed at King George, Pleasant Hill, Princess Alexandra, and Westmount Community Schools.  Funding came from the province, service clubs, professional associations, churches, and individuals.  Currently, the Ministry of Education funds approximately 35 prekindergarten programs in Saskatoon and the surrounding area.

The Saskatoon Inner City Preschool Foundation was created in 1994.  In 1998 the name was changed to the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation as it became evident that there were families in all parts of our city having difficulty accessing preschool education for their children due to financial constraints.

Although not involved in their operations, the Foundation works in cooperation with approximately 115 preschool-type organizations in Saskatoon and area.


Why is preschool important?

Research indicates that attending a high quality preschool program is beneficial to children of all socioeconomic backgrounds in terms of:

  • academic success during primary grades (e.g. increase in test scores and decrease in referral to special education) and
  • long term measures of success such as high school graduation
Research also indicates that long term benefits for children in low socioeconomic families are the most significant related to high school graduation rates and prosocial behavior.
 
Standardized assessments of Kindergarten children at the beginning of the school year suggest that children who have attended preschool begin kindergarten with a 4 to 8 month advantage in areas such as:
  • letter-word identification
  • spelling
  • applied (math) problems

Most studies of the social behavior have found persistent positive effects and none have found persistent negative effects.

Another long term benefit includes decreased involvement in juvenile delinquency and adult crime.

Given the limited number of publicly funded prekindergarten programs in Saskatoon, many parents are left with the financial responsibilities of sending their children to preschool. Tuition for community preschool averages $1000/year, which is well beyond the financial resources of many families. Preschool tuition subsidies go a long way toward alleviating this situation.

References for this information are available upon request (saskatoonpreschoolfoundation@spf.sk.ca)

SPF Board Members

President                   Laurie Lanovaz

Vice-President           Kathy Harrison

Treasurer                    Holly Matkowski

Secretary                    Vacant

Members at Large:     Jean Bacon

                                                   Trona Guenther

                                                   Siera Paterson

                                                   Ulrike Hecker

 

About Our Board Members

Jean Bacon

I have been associated with the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation for over 20 years.  As a special needs consultant, I realized the value of early learning to the success of children in the early years of school. This understanding was heightened throughout my career as an educator, as I began to learn about the research that supports the benefits of early learning throughout a lifetime.  It has been enriching to work as a team with other board members and with preschool teachers in Saskatoon and the surrounding area.

I have my whole life in Saskatchewan and most of it in Saskatoon.  I have three sons and six grandchildren spread out across Western Canada and I’m blessed by the opportunities that have been provided to me and my family having landed in this part of the world.  I’ve learned so much from my experiences as an SPF board member.  I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to be of service.

Trona Guenther

I joined the SPF board because I could see the importance and value of providing education to preschoolers. I loved the goal of the SPF to fund preschoolers who, otherwise, may not be able to attend. The SPF is a group of exceptional people who have the same goal and it’s been an incredible experience working with them all. My job is centered around preschoolers everyday as I have had my own day home for the past 12 years. Previously, I was a teacher and have seen the benefit of an early education and how it affects confidence and self-value. 

I am from a town northeast of Prince Albert but moved to the city 20 years ago to take my Bachelor of Education. This is where I met my husband and we now have three children. Saskatoon is big enough to offer amazing opportunities but has a small city feeling where the community comes together to help and support those who need it. 

Kathy Harrison

Since joining the SPF Board in 2016, I have found it very interesting and rewarding to be part of a small but active working group of individuals who share my passion for early childhood education and the important role it plays in a child’s life.  I have been employed by and volunteered with several non-profit organizations in Saskatoon.  As a retired early childhood educator, my career focused on supporting young children with different abilities and their families. It is rewarding to continue to be involved in supporting vulnerable children and families in our community.

I was born and raised in Saskatoon by parents who demonstrated volunteerism, philanthropy, and supporting disadvantaged people in our community.  My husband and I have spent most of our lives in Saskatoon, working and raising our son and daughter, who both live out of province now.  We enjoy spending time at our local cabin, as well as travelling.

Laurie Lanovaz

I have been an Early Educator in a preschool setting for over 20 years.  I joined the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation to help make a difference in the lives of children who otherwise may not be able to attend a preschool in their community.  I witness daily the benefits of providing children a preschool experience for both enhancing their academic foundations and establishing a sense of belonging to their community.  I have been honored to work within a dedicated group of board members who collectively strive to provide tuition subsidies to those families who value early childhood education.

I lived a short time in East Lansing, Michigan and Kingston, Ontario.   My family returned to Saskatoon 15 years ago and my husband and I have been blessed to raise our two daughters in a city that values families and provides an abundance of opportunities!

Holly Matkowski

I joined the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation (SPF) in 2016 and I am so honoured to work with such an amazing group of volunteers. I first obtained my Sociology degree in 2005 and worked in the field of Correctional Services before returning to university to pursue my CPA in 2011. It was from my experience in Corrections, that I saw first-hand the important role education plays in an individual's life.

I was born in the Northwest Territories and spent my childhood moving to different mining locations in Canada, Australia and Chile before my family settled in Saskatoon. I met my husband in Saskatoon and we are now the proud parents of two little girls. We are so grateful that our eldest daughter is currently enrolled in a preschool program and will receive so many benefits from this early learning. I appreciate being part of an organization that provides this important experience for children whose families could not otherwise afford it. 

Siera Paterson

I joined the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation in 2021, shortly after the birth of my first child. I grew up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan and completed my undergraduate psychology degree at the University of Saskatchewan. Later, I returned to the University of Saskatchewan to complete my law degree. My family and I currently live in Saskatoon and enjoy all that this diverse and beautiful city has to offer.

I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with an amazing group of individuals who share a passion for early childhood education. Despite the fact that my career path led me to the practice of law, the importance of childhood education has always held a special place in my heart. I believe that early childhood education is of the utmost importance and believe that all children, regardless of socio-economic background, should be given the opportunity to participate in preschool.

Ulrike Hecker

I have been a teacher and Early Childhood Educator for over 30 years. I have a strong passion for children and have been an advocate for “learning through exploration” throughout my career. I was born and raised in Germany. After having lived in Michigan for five years, my husband and our 2 children moved to Saskatoon.

As the Coordinator of Hansel & Gretel Preschool and being a member of the Saskatoon Preschool Teacher Group (SPTG), I know how important it is to support families and their children. It is my strong and heartfelt belief that ALL children should have equal opportunities to learn and grow, academically, emotionally and socially.

I enjoy sharing my passion for children with teachers and parents by presenting at workshops and conferences. I joined the SPF board of directors in 2022. I am looking forward to the opportunity of working with the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation because I know that together we can make a difference in our children’s lives!

 

 

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Parents and preschool teachers have shared many insights into the benefits of preschool …

 One of the parents whose child received a subsidy said that he had seen his child become more creative, using innovative ideas to try different activities at home during the year she was in preschool....Read More