GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - For the first time in history, the George County School District now has a preschool program. The first class started school last week, and the hope is that this pilot program grows to provide more access to more students.
Agricola Elementary School's pre-k classroom may look a bit chaotic with 20 4-year-olds scattered throughout the room. For many, it's the first time they've been in an organized classroom setting.
"What we're trying to do is outreach to some of the children in the community that didn't have access to early childhood education," said Principal Dr. Lori Massey.
It's the latest initiative funded by the George County School District. This school year, the district kicked off two pilot programs.
"One here and one at Rocky Creek Elementary," Massey said.
They're both geared toward increasing the ability for children in the county to compete academically with other kids their age around the nation.
"We know the earlier they start and the earlier they have that exposure to those early reading and math skills, the better they're gonna grow and they're going to flourish, and the more opportunities they'll have for their future," Massey said.
Looking into the day-to-day of the classroom, it's a bit unconventional.
"They do dramatic play, and they work on early math skills, but they do it with a lot of manipulative, using blocks and cubes and shapes and things like that," Massey said.
The approach has proven results.
"Children feel like their playing, but their learning so many skills in that time," Massey said.
They're learning skills administrators hope will carry over to kindergarten and beyond, strengthening not only the school district, but the community as well.
The superintendent says the school is the highest ranking in the county. Due to the high level of instruction, teachers will be receiving incentives from the Mississippi Department of Education.