Pascagoula School District starting classes for four-year-olds

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The Pascagoula School District wants to make sure its four-year-olds are ready for Kindergarten. So next month, the district will launch its first preschool program.

School districts like Pass Christian and Ocean Springs offer their own pre-K programs. But the one in Pascagoula is unique, because it's reaching out to every daycare center in Pascagoula and Gautier.

The child care center at First United Methodist Church in Pascagoula is one of 14 daycares that will take part in the unique pre-K program.

"Every preschooler in Pascagoula and in Gautier are going to be part of this project," said Dr. Connie Jo Williams, Director of the Early Beginnings Program for the Pascagoula School District.

"It's one-of-a-kind because the children are coming in," she added. "They're going to be transported. The bus will go out and it'll get the kids from the preschools and bring them over here, and then we've got two hours of unbelievably good fun."

The new pre-K classes will start September 6th at the Family Interactive Center. The children will come there twice a month for literacy, math, and science activities. They will also have access to technology you won't find in most child care centers.

"We got the SmartBoard. We got computers. There are iPads that will be outfitted for each classroom," said Williams.

"This will add so much more to their development. It'll actually get them out of the classroom, get them in to another kind of classroom," said Jennifer Charbonnet, Director of the child care center at FUMC in Pascagoula.

The district wants to reach the little ones at a critical age.

"Fifty percent of a child's intelligence is garnered by the time they're four years old. What are we doing with them?" asked Williams. "We need to put our efforts into early childhood. There's so much that goes on that happens during these times. We need to do everything we can to expose these children to everything they get."

By giving the youngsters a jump start, the district believes they will gain vital academic and social skills for an easier transition to Kindergarten.

"I guarantee you, they'll be starting to read. Every one of them will be," said Williams. "We have such an opportunity with the children when they're so young to do so much and it makes such a difference."

The classroom, equipment, and supplies cost $60,000. Funding came from the school district, private donors, and Dain Capital of Massachusetts. The pre-K classes are free.

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