OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Excel by 5 communities are continuously growing here on the Coast. On Friday, Ocean Springs School District officials cut the ribbon to the Excel by 5 resource center at Magnolia Park Elementary. Ocean Springs has become the 43rd certified Excel by 5 community in the State. The program ensures children are healthy, happy and ready to learn by the time they get into kindergarten.
Five-year-old Luke Ryder plays at the sensory table at the resource center. He doesn't realize the table is teaching him things like letter and color identification.
Shea Dobson, Ocean Springs Mayor said, "My parents brought me here because of the school district, so it's a big draw. And our school district, Magnolia Park, the high school, everybody is amazing. So, it's a big part to have Excel by 5 here."
The ribbon has been cut to the resource center. Officials say the center will house volunteers who are retired teachers and even grandmothers.
"We do things with the puzzles. That helps them with the fine motor development. We have dramatic play. We have imaginative play. We do have the computers. So, they do get computer exposure with the mouse," said Kim Dossett who is the Ocean Springs Excel By 5 Certification Manager.
It's a place where parents can go to bring their children ages 0 – 5 years old. So that by the time they attend kindergarten, they're ready.
The center offers different materials for parents or guardians to interact with their children.
"His favorite thing to do is that tent over there. He loves to get in it and peekaboo out the windows," said administrator and grandparent Kelly Long.
There are also games and books parents can check out and bring home.
"There's also a time to socialize especially for those children who aren't in preschool yet. It's a time for them to interact with other children. Maybe they're at home all day and don't get that opportunity," said Jodi Ryder.
Officials say the center is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week.
The resource center opened last year. Prior to being certified Ocean Springs had to take part in a rigorous certification process.