Gulfport wins national education award - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport wins national education award

The Campaign for Grade Level Reading presented the city with the Pacesetter Award for showing great progress in preparing preschoolers for kindergarten and for helping third graders read at grade level. (Photo source: WLOX) The Campaign for Grade Level Reading presented the city with the Pacesetter Award for showing great progress in preparing preschoolers for kindergarten and for helping third graders read at grade level. (Photo source: WLOX)
The city was recognized for its PreK4Ward, mentoring and after school programs that focus on sharpening students' reading skills. (Photo source: WLOX) The city was recognized for its PreK4Ward, mentoring and after school programs that focus on sharpening students' reading skills. (Photo source: WLOX)
Gulfport was one of 30 communities in the country honored with the Pacesetter Award. It was the only city selected in Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX) Gulfport was one of 30 communities in the country honored with the Pacesetter Award. It was the only city selected in Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Gulfport received national recognition Tuesday for guiding children toward the path to education success. The nonprofit group Campaign for Grade Level Reading presented city leaders with the Pacesetter Award. The group praised Gulfport for making great progress in helping children become proficient readers, especially those from low-income families.

Dr. Sherri Killins is a representative from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. The group has one major goal: Make sure all students can read successfully by the third grade.

On Tuesday, Killins visited several programs that promote literacy in Gulfport, like the summer mentoring class at Gaston Point Elementary.

"There's so much energy in Gulfport. I've seen volunteers. I've seen certified teachers. I've seen children that are excited and engaged," said Killins.

Killins also came to South Mississippi to celebrate Gulfport's latest achievement. Gulfport is the only city in Mississippi, and one of only 30 communities in the country, to receive the Pacesetter Award.

The United Way of South Mississippi helped lead the push for Gulfport to join this national network so it could receive resources, training and expert advice on teaching children to read.

"It was a real exciting moment, because so oftentimes in Mississippi, we hear how we're not doing things right in educating our children, and all of a sudden, someone said not only are you doing the right things, you're doing it better than most," said United Way of South Mississippi CEO Cynthia Minton Walker.

Along with its summer reading courses, Gulfport was recognized for promoting early childhood education through PreK4Ward and Excel by 5 and offering after school tutoring.

"This is absolutely a deserving community," said Killins. "Cities that win the Pacesetter Award are sought out by funders. They're demonstrating measurable progress. They have data to prove they've got a success."

That success came from the entire community pitching in money, resources and support to help children succeed in school and in life.

"Our children deserve better, and so the adults bound their efforts together and said let's make a difference and we've done that, and that's exciting stuff," said Walker.

"The big deal is they're on the path, and they're really a role model for other communities all around the country," said Killens.

Gulfport can now compete for the 2017 All American City Award given by the National League of Cities.

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