NA superintendent says no money hurts states’ Pre-K programs

At the beginning of October, Dr. Charles Garrett, New Albany School Superintendent had an opportunity to discuss this theme and many others at the Pre-Kindergarten Institute at Harvard University. Garrett was invited  by the Mississippi Department of Education to attend a conference called “PreK-3rd: The Foundation for Educational Success Institute.” 

“The Institute had a Pre-K to third grade emphasis, which I think is a period of time that is extremely important to the development of children,” said Garrett.

The Institute provides education leaders with the frameworks, research and strategies to develop and sustain aligned PreK-3rd programs. Attendees learned how to strengthen and improve schools and support families during the crucial years from pre-kindergarten through third grade. Education leaders also learned how to understand how instruction, family engagement and social-emotional development are key levers that positively impact learning.

Garrett spoke more about this trip at the monthly New Albany School Board meeting, which was held Monday night at the New Albany Middle School Library.

He said that there were 15 states represented as well as other countries represented. Seven people, including Dr. Garrett, were from Mississippi.

He said, “One thing that we learned is that the achievement gap among students entering Kindergarten is roughly the same as the achievement gap for those entering after 8th grade.”

Garrett also said that fluency is the key when learning and understanding words and word usage, a community environment is helpful to create when learning and teaching children, there needs to be some kind of way to help parents help their children, maybe with some kind of training.

Also, he suggested that a book be created that outlines what a child should be able to do when he or she leaves Kindergarten.

Garrett said that the consensus among the group of Mississippians that he worked with was, “Everything is in place, but there is no money and no pressure from leadership.”

An average of 154 children were polled on a variety of subjects areas and learning concepts, including using lower-case and upper-case words, identifying colors, numbers 1-20, shapes, sight words and writing their own name.

Garrett and the New Albany School Board will continue to look at steps to take to ensure children’s academic success in this realm of education.

Glen Reeder, director of the Pre-K program at New Albany Elementary School said, “I am excited to be back in early childhood. The main key is to get them prepared for Kindergarten. The new curriculum that we will use next year is student-directed.

The board approved the agreement of BNA Bank to purchase a new football scoreboard and 25-second clocks for New Albany High School for an approximate cost of $27,000. The current scoreboard is approximately 15 years old and was a 20 foot scoreboard. This new scoreboard will have a 10-year warranty, will be a 25-foot scoreboard, and will be up before January, according to New Albany High School Principal Lance Evans. BNA Bank will have the advertising on the scoreboard and 25-second clocks for ten years.

The board approved the action agenda, personnel agenda, and consent agenda.

 The board will reconvene at 5:30 p.m., Dec. 6, 2010 at the central office.