three youth playing together

Comets & Rainbows

AGES: Comets (Older 3-year-olds and 4K Program) & Rainbows (4-year-olds and 4K Program)

WECP provides two Pre-K classrooms, “Rainbow Room” and “Comet Room”, that offer testing and report card scoring that aligns with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) if your student is enrolled through their 4K program. WECP has a contract with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) to provide a 4K program; children who are 4 years old by September 1 are eligible. (If space allows, children who miss the September cut-off date may be placed in a 4K classroom.) Priority in enrollment is given to families who register for 4K in the MMSD and who are currently enrolled in WECP. Each WECP 4K classroom is staffed by one licensed and certified early childhood teacher and at least 2 teaching assistants. Classroom sizes range from 15-20 children. The 4K classrooms often obtain support from UW Student workers and Interns to provide additional supervision and caretaking of the students’ needs.

Following our developmental and play-based philosophy, learning centers in the classroom integrate math, literacy, science, social studies and the arts. Children experience a wide array of experiences, with teachers guiding them in their discovery and learning of many concepts, as well as in developing social-emotional classroom skills that help to prepare them for kindergarten. Our 4K program is based on evidence that academic skills can best be learned when children’s emotional and social development is well-grounded. Throughout all activities—and many times as the focus of activities—children are encouraged to:

  • recognize their feelings and the feelings of others
  • use strategies to calm themselves and focus their attention
  • practice positive communication with others and play cooperatively
  • solve interpersonal problems constructively
  • contribute to their classroom community in helpful ways

WECP 4K teachers provide two formal assessments per year for MMSD: one in the fall and one in the spring. All WECP teachers go above and beyond by also preparing individual portfolios for each child, documenting several domains of development and photo observations for parents to review each semester; and as a team, identify “next steps” for their child. The following sample schedule illustrates a typical full-day program:

  • 7:30-8:30 a.m. | Arrival/free play
  • 8:45 a.m. | Circle time (introduction to the day, stories, show-and-tell)
  • 9:00 a.m. | Snack
  • 9:15 a.m. | Discovery Time (art, science/discovery, blocks/construction/small manipulative toys, math, literacy, books/listening center, computer)
  • 10:30 a.m. | Small groups (teacher-guided activities with four or five children)
  • 11:00 a.m. | Gym or outside play
  • 11:45 a.m. | Lunch
  • 1:00 p.m. | Quiet activities/rest time
  • 2:00 p.m. | Gym or outside play
  • 3:00 p.m. | Snack
  • 3:30 p.m. | Afternoon circle time (introduction to afternoon projects, stories, games, music) and project.
  • Discovery Time
  • 5:15 – 5:30 p.m. |  Clean up, get ready to leave, end of school day

More information about application, enrollment and registration is available by calling the WECP office or Program Director. Enrollment in WECP 4K follows this process:

  1. Apply to WECP for one of two Monday through Friday attendance options: 7:30-3:30 or 7:30-5:30.
  2. You will be notified by April 1 (if not sooner), if a spot is available. If so, you will be sent the appropriate enrollment forms. Children who are re-enrolling have priority, followed by those on our waiting list.
  3. Families must register their child with the MMSD for 4K beginning in early February and complete the appropriate registration forms. This process is completed on the MMSD website and information is sent to families from WECP in late January informing them of next steps.

Comets and Rainbows Teachers

Kelly-Rose Cates

Position title: Teacher

Hello Comet families! My name is Kelly-Rose Cates. I moved to Madison in May 2018 from Fort Collins, Colorado. I attended Colorado State University for my undergrad, with a major in Human Development and Family Studies. I then received my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Colorado Denver; I hold a license in the state of Wisconsin for Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education. Outside of work, I enjoy camping, reading, skiing, volleyball, hiking, and hanging out with my daughters, Marley and Evelyn!

Danqing Dai

Position title: Enrichment Assistant Teacher

Hi families! My name is Danqing and I come from a beautiful coastal city in Southern China called Shenzhen. I am a recent graduate from UW-Madison majored in psychology with a minor in education and educational services. In my free time, I like to do yoga, dance, play piano, ukulele, ultimate Frisbee, cook, and connect with fellow humans in different communities – or hang out with my kitty named Bootz! I am also passionate about anything related to mind-body-spirit wellness, which also influences my orientation professionally.  At Waisman, I am most excited about learning skills that would help me contribute to the social emotional well-being of the next generation. I look forward to getting to know you and your children!

Lisa Hawkins

Position title: Teacher

Welcome! I am Lisa Hawkins and I am currently a full-time teacher in the Rainbow Room. I began my career here at WECP as a student teacher back in 1993 and have been here ever since. I have taught in several other classrooms throughout my 25+ years here and have loved every one! Also during my years here I have had 3 awesome sons: Lary Jr who is now 21, Skylar who is 19 and Try who is 16 years old. I have a B.S. degree in child and family studies with a pre-school/kindergarten focus and certification to teach pre-k through 6th grade. I feel very fortunate to have my teaching career here and to also have had my 3 boys attend this wonderful pre-school! Along with my career which I love. I also enjoy spending all of my free time with my spectacular boys, mainly cheering them on at their football and basketball games!