$4.3 million granted to Georgia school system - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

$4.3 million granted to Georgia school system

October 18, 2007

Thursday-- For the 3 and 4 year-olds in Ms. William's Pre-K class at Early County Elementary School, the day is packed with fun and learning.  "We read books and we play with toys," says 4-year-old Cedric McClendon.

Its an opportunity not all youngsters in Early county are getting right now.  "We have so many kids who are left in daycares where there's no instruction, they basically play all day, don't know numbers don't know letters don't know colors," says ECES Principal David Ferry.

Between the Pre-K and Head Start programs, about 200 three and four-year-olds are already learning the basics, but there are still others who aren't.  "This is going to allow us to expand that both our Pre-K and Head Start have waiting lists and so we have kids out there who are not getting served," says Ferry. 

The Early First Reading Grant will allow the school to open 17 positions strictly designed for increasing early literacy.  "It is aimed at poverty stricken areas which we certainly are, and our literacy rate, even with our adult population is very low," Ferry says.  And they say, literacy is key.   By increasing reading skills at such a young age, things could look very different in the future.

Kids who've already been through the program are living proof.  "I read lots of kinds of stuff and its in my book, my library book and my book that I read stories in, I read that all the time," says first-grader, Brittany Hughes.  "They come to school much better prepared than if they sat in front of the tv or the gameboy for the first three years of their life," explains Ferry.

 And that early start could be the key to breaking the poverty cycle.  "We need industry in the county to provide jobs. We can't get that industry without a good education system and a literate prepared workforce," Ferry says. So starting on the smallest level could make a huge impact on the rest of the community.

The grant will hopefully get at least 60 more three and four year olds into early reading programs.  Daycare centers will also be invited to participate. 

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