Lamar County celebrates 10 years of early learning

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 7:43 PM CST
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LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Students at Oak Grove Elementary got a chance Wednesday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Early Learning Collaborative Act.

Faculty and students took the time to reflect on just how far the program has come in the past decade.

“We started out as a district with about 12 kids in Baxterville, and now we’ve grown to serving over 300 around Lamar County,” said Pre-K Coordinator Heather Lyons. “Every school has pre-K class; at least one, most of them multiple. So it has grown immensely, but these are our kids. These are the kids that went through the program.”

The celebration included students from pre-K to sixth grade, all of which have been a part of the ELC.

Lyons says that, while education is part of the program, the students are also taught essential life skills to help them become better learners.

“One of the things that we focused on heavily is the social and emotional growth of our students and the executive function,” Lyons said. “Those problem-solving skills, in addition to the academics, but we know that helping them develop friends, helping them get along with each other, managing their emotions; all of those things are going to make them successful learners when they come to kindergarten.”

The state has invested more than $70 million in the program in the past 10 years, and by the end of this year, 25 percent of 4-year-olds in Mississippi will be served.

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