PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - For first the time, 4-year-olds are now full time students in Pascagoula School district. The district rolled out its pre-K program this year as part of its 2007 strategic plan to boost education.
There seemed to be no tears or even first day jitters for the 4-year-olds as they prepared for their first day of class at Gautier Elementary.
"Honestly, the parents seemed to have the jitters more than the students," Principal Michelle Richmond.
The elementary school is one of four in the Pascagoula School district that now teaches pre-K students. The pilot program is not designed to babysit.
"Absolutely not. Now 4-year-olds do learn through play, so there are a lot of things in that classroom where you see puppets, blocks, and there is a home center and all those type of activities," Assistant Superintendent Belinda Dammen said. "When students go to those centers, they go with a task in mind such as they are studying transportation, they go to a block center, and they are going to build a city, bridge or road, and then they explain that."
The kids will also have a room full of technology at their fingertips.
"In this classroom there are already four Apple computers, an Apple TV that is very interactive for the students. So, it is going to open these kids' worlds up to a lot of things. We are excited," Principal Richmond said.
Recently, the state passed its first publicly funded pilot pre-K program. District leaders hope that will push more schools to consider creating these early childhood development classes.
"Pre-kindergarten is the beginning for every child. I think it sets the foundation for them because in pre-K that is where they learn letters and sounds, so they get that foundation so they are ready to read when they get in kindergarten," Dammen said.
Sixty-four students are part of the program this year. District leaders are considering expanding the pre-K program to serve more kids in the community.