Grant to Fund Pre-school Prep Project at Jackson State University

JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson State University is launching a project to help parents get children ready for school.

The program, through JSU’s Mississippi Learning Institute, also will provide training for local pre-school teachers.

The Clarion-Ledger reports the two-year project is funded with a $700,000 grant. It is part of a partnership with Jackson Public Schools. Pre-school teachers who will benefit from the grant include those working in the district and some local child care providers.

The plans for the grant, awarded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, were announced Monday.

Parents are their children’s first teachers, said Dr. Nikisha Ware, the institute’s executive director. Parenting classes offered through this project would help them fill that role.

The child care providers, parents and school district officials will work together to design a curriculum that could be used to help strengthen early education offerings for children up to 5, Ware said.

“We have to build the capacity for people to do the work once the funding is gone,” Ware said.

Teachers can be trained in how to better help students who enter school unprepared.

Several efforts are under way across the state to improve early education. Mississippi officials are applying for the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge in hopes of securing more funding to strengthen early education in the state.

More money is spent on remediation for students who were not ready for school as well as on special education programs and grade retention. Educators also say there is a link between a child’s early education foundation and their success later in life.