Moss Point working for Excel by 5 certification

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Moss Point already has some great programs in place to help children from birth to age five, but it's working to offer even more. The city is in the process of becoming Excel by 5 Certified, which ultimately will help children in Moss Point grow up happy, healthy, and ready to learn.

A world of discovery awaits preschoolers at Moss Point's Family Education Center.

"The family education center is here to serve the community," said Patrice McCullum, coordinator for the center. "We have materials here for children from birth to the age of five. We have parenting materials that can be checked out. We have a computer lab that's open to the community where they have free internet access."

McCullum's work at the Family Education Center is really at the center of Moss Point's mission to become a more child-friendly community.

"In talking to kindergarten teachers I find that there's a tremendous gap in the knowledge that children need to have when they enter kindergarten," McCullum said. "So that's part of what we're doing. We're trying to bridge that gap."

That's where Excel by 5 comes into play.  McCullum is the certification manager for Moss Point's Excel by 5 coalition. She says they're about halfway through the two-year process.

"We're working diligently everyday at meeting those goals, trying to get our local daycare centers to be highly qualified centers."

Catherine Glaude is heading the coalition's community development group. She also works for the Boys and Girls Club of Jackson County and is passionate about children. She knows getting involved early can make a huge difference in a child's life.

"What we're doing here is for the future of our community, of Jackson County, of Mississippi, of the world, to be honest. It is to make sure that children from birth to age five are equipped, healthy, educated - all the things they need to do to be a positive citizen here in Jackson County."

But helping children in Moss Point excel will require a commitment from the entire community.

"We want them to know this is not a fly by night program," McCullum said. "It's a process that the whole community goes through to become a child friendly community."

Glaude added, "It is worth your time to be involved at some level with the coalition, so please just come out and listen to what we have to offer."

Moss Point will hold its first town hall meeting about Excel by 5 Thursday, November 19th, at 6pm at the River Front Community Center.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.