Lee County Excel By 5 outlines plans

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

SALTILLO – A Lee County organization will soon provide workshops for parents of young children, activities for families and training for childcare providers.
Lee County’s Excel By 5 coalition held an update meeting on Monday night at Saltillo Primary School. It will hold similar meetings tonight at Verona Elementary School and Thursday at Milam Elementary School. Each will begin at 6 p.m. and last for about an hour.
Excel By 5 is a statewide program that outlines a series of steps participating communities must take to support children age 5 and younger. Those who meet the criteria are certified as being early childhood-friendly communities.
On Monday, Lee County’s Excel By 5 Certification Manager Beverly Williams outlined some of the needs revealed from a recent survey of 382 parents, 30 health care provides and 19 childcare providers in the community. Those included the negative influences of other children, not knowing what age-appropriate skills to teach children and not having enough activities for youth.
In response, the organization plans to hold workshops about character education and school readiness. It will organize various activities for families to participate in and provide educational resources.
Williams said they are also trying to help Lee County join the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. That would allow children to receive a free book each month until their fifth birthday at a yearly cost to Excel By 5 of $25 per child.
Williams said the group hopes to first offer the program to children in Shannon, Plantersville and Verona, which would require raising $10,000. It would expand to other areas, if it could raise more money.
Troy Coleman of Tupelo attended Monday’s meeting with her 3-year-old son.
“I am eager to change the current state of affairs of early childhood education, and if I can be part of the process, I want to be,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lisa Wadley, the director of the Sylvan Learning Center, was drawn to the meeting by the opportunity to help ensure children are better prepared for kindergarten.
chris.kiefer@journalinc.com