Industry To Fuel Education

One of Jackson County's largest industries is getting into the business of education.

With the help of First Lady Marsha Barbour, Chevron-Texaco announced its plans Tuesday to donate $650,000 to help launch a pilot program in Pascagoula called "Excel By 5." The program is geared toward early child development from infancy, until the time a child begins school.

Kindergarten teacher Debby Renfroe, whose husband is a long time Chevron employee, helped develop the program, along with Chevron-Texaco and various state and private agencies. Renfroe says the program will help prepare children for school.

"When they come they'll already know basic things," says Renfroe. "They know their colors, they recognize their names, they already know letters and maybe sounds and they're ready to begin immediately with our curriculum."

The primary goal of the program is to strengthen all aspects of child development, whether it be providing health care services, or helping libraries provide reading programs to families with preschool aged children.

"All these resources come together and meet the needs of children from birth to kindergarten age so that when they enter school, they're ready," said Renfroe.

Parents who choose to have their children participate in the program will keep records of the educational activities their child goes through. Renfroe says this information will be helpful to teachers.

"We will know how much reading has been done with them and to them, what kind of musical experiences they've had, what kind of health situations they're involved in, if they have any special needs," said Renfroe.

If successful, Renfroe says children will be better prepared when they enter school. And better preparation increases the likelihood that children will be successful in education.

First Lady Marsha Barbour says the program is not only an educational tool, but also an economic tool that will attract industries looking to relocate.