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Preschool Screening Registration Open for Tiger Paw

Students attending Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center may be small — age 5 and younger — but they are learning big things. In fact, Early Childhood Principal Laura Eakins said preschoolers are in the midst of their biggest developmental growth. 

“Early Childhood education provides the foundation to prepare children for their future,” Eakins said. “Preschool is more than learning your ABCs and learning numbers, it focuses on the whole child, developing the necessary skills to be successful in school and life.”

For some students and families, school can be a struggle. That’s why Tiger Paw is so vital, because it provides early interventions that can have powerful effects on individual achievement while addressing all areas of development. 

“We want to support the whole child, not just academically, but socially and emotionally. Tiger Paw is a great starting point for families who may not know where to go,” Eakins said. “Tiger Paw provides services that support the whole child and the needs of families.” 

Early InterventionTiger Paw Early Childhood Center Teacher Vickie Chapman helps student Aria Venables.

Research shows investing in children early has huge benefits, not only to academic and cognitive skills, but early childhood education helps children improve social and emotional skills, language skills and adaptive skills, which are necessary for kindergarten readiness.

“Kindergarten is so different than it was 10 years ago,” Eakins said. “We know the impact a quality preschool program has on kids when they start kindergarten.”

Parents who contact Tiger Paw are often surprised to learn that the Early Childhood Center houses five different programs, each interwoven together to meet students at their level of need and development. 

Tiger Paw programs include Early Childhood Special Education, Parents as Teachers, a community preschool for ages 3-5, state-funded preschool for students who qualify based on income and need, and employee childcare serving birth to age 2. 

“Our goal is to set students up to be successful in school and therefore set them up to be successful outside of school,” ECC Assistant Principal Elizabeth Dawson said.

Children who live in Ozark School District may be eligible to attend one of the Early Childhood Preschool programs, and can participate in a free preschool screening. Screenings are open for children who will be 3 years old on or before July 31, and children who are 4 years old. To schedule a preschool screening appointment, call (417) 582-5992.


Through Operation Renovate & Innovate, Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center will be able to make an even larger impact as it expands services to more families.

“We have an extensive waiting list for each of our programs at Tiger Paw,” Dawson said. “We recognize the desire within our community for early childhood education, which makes this expansion an exciting opportunity to support and serve our youngest learners.” 

Pending the passage of the $26.5 million no tax increase bond issue in June, the current District Office, built in 1922, will undergo a complete renovation to nearly double the size of Tiger Paw and serve up to an additional 200 students. 

“Currently, we’re having to double up some classrooms to meet the needs within our community,” Eakins said. “The expansion would provide an opportunity to extend our outreach to families and meet the needs of our community’s earliest learners.” 

To learn more about Operation Renovate & Innovation, visit

preschool screening graphic