GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - President Joe Biden will address congress Wednesday night with one proposal sure to grab attention, the American Family Plan. The $1.8 trillion plan includes funding for a variety of social programs, like free community college and universal preschool.
So far, local progress is already happening in early learning programs across South Mississippi.
Children as young as four years old are plugged into early education through several different entities, like the four Pre-K classes within the Gulfport School District. District Pre-K coordinator Brook Glass said Pre-K programs aim to prepare young minds for kindergarten.
“This was our second year completed and we’re going on our third year,” Glass said. “This is our first year to actually partner with Mississippi State Head Start services. We did the partnership with them because they do a really good job of targeting our highest needs.”
Through the partnerships, there is an income requirement, but not for all, blending requirements from the partners with the district’s.
“Our main focus is you need to live within our school district,” Glass said. “Then we do a really good job of choosing teachers who are Pre-K certified that have that background and have that knowledge.”
Glass said the Pre-K classrooms are designed to have free choice, allowing children to go from station to station that best interest them at that moment. Glass said each child must spend 20 minutes on the computer each week, which focuses on language and math.
“Mr. East has kind of set a goal for our pre-K teachers that when these students leave pre-K and take the MKAS, the kindergarten readiness assessment, that he wants a 530 across the board,” Glass said. “So far two of our four classrooms have completed the MKAS and right now their average score is 560 and 561, so we are seeing tremendous growth in these classes and these kids are going to be really ready for kindergarten next year.”
Glass said she values early education, which prepares little ones for their first big step into the halls of K-12 schools. Community partners like Head Start, United Way of South Mississippi, Excel by five and others are also instrumental in creating more early learning opportunities for our children here on the Gulf Coast.