By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN This summer, when Winsted Elementary School teacher Jessica Bogdan got her class list for all-day kindergarten, she noticed something a little surprising.
“As I glanced over the names, I thought, ‘hmm, boy name, boy name, boy name.’ Then, I looked at the next column and found that all 16 students were ‘M’ for ‘male,’” Bogdan recalled.
She remembers exclaiming to school secretary Julie Stifter, “Oh my, they are all boys!”
“Julie came around the desk to see for herself we were both shocked,” Bogdan noted. “It has never happened that a class has been all girls or all boys.”
At Winsted Elementary, there is one section of extended-day kindergarten, and two sections of half-day kindergarten.
Even though more girls are enrolled in kindergarten total, it just so happened that all the girls signed up for the half-day program.
“Extended-day kindergarten is a tuition-based program that provides kindergarten instruction for the full school day,” Bogdan explained. “So, families make the choice as to which program they feel is best for their child.”
In her previous three years at Winsted Elementary, Bogdan has had mixed boy/girl classes, always with a few more girls than boys.
“At the beginning of the year, the boys had to correct me all the time when I would say ‘boys and girls’ out of habit when addressing the class,” Bogdan noted. “So, I started saying ‘boys and boys’ instead. They get a kick out of that.”
The class, which is referred to as “Mrs. Bogdan’s Boys,” shares a unique sense of community and cohesiveness.
“The boys love being in a boys-only group,” Bodgan said. “They relate to each other easily and have many of the same interests.”
A boys-only class also has other advantages, such as the time when they were out on the playground, and a student from another class forgot to leave with her group.
“The boys noticed right away and said, ‘Hey, how come there’s a girl out here?’” Bogdan recalled.
The class also prepared Bogdan for her own son, Drake, who was born Dec. 19, 2011.
“Because my daughter, Cady, is my only other child, I have been immersed in ‘all girl’ for the last six years,” Bogdan said, adding that her class has given her insight into the differences and similarities between boys and girls.
“We have many active lessons and transition often. But, I have also found that they get excited for all things kindergarten has to offer whether or not it is an activity that I previously thought appeals most to girls,” Bogdan noted. “The boys love to read, sing, dance, and do art projects.”
The children are also looking forward to meeting Bogdan’s new little boy.
“I plan on bringing him in for show-and-tell soon,” Bogdan said.
Bogdan went on maternity leave Dec. 16, and plans to be back in school the beginning of March.
Her long-term substitute, Tricia Nordling, has been getting to know the class over the last few months, subbing regularly while Bogdan was at doctor’s appointments.
Overall, Bogdan said that having a class of 16 boys has been an enjoyable adventure.
“The boys do have a lot of energy, and the group dynamic can be somewhat contagious, but they are also very conscious of being good students and following our kindergarten rules and routines,” she said.