New Albany and Union County have completed all the requirements to become an Excel by 5 certified community in Mississippi.
It’s time to give ourselves a pat on the back because only nine communities in the state have completed the steps to be part of the program that supports early childhood education.
Excel by 5 is an initiative of the Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University, but its success depends on local commitment. It’s an effort to get children from birth to age 5 healthier and better prepared for school. The program identifies community needs and coordinates programs to fulfill them.
It’s important because Mississippi school children lag near the bottom among the states in education performance and a key reason is that many arrive at kindergarten and first grade unprepared for learning.
Most never catch up to the level of other children and the result affects lots of things over time: the earning level of our citizens, the tax revenues available in the state and the overall economic development of the state.
In our community, a coalition of people representing education, child-care centers, healthcare, business and local government worked hard to get the program started. It was chaired by Phil Nanney of the Union County Development Association. Co-certification managers were Lecia Stubblefield, an administrator in the New Albany Schools, and Windy Faulkner, principal at New Albany Elementary School.
A family resource center already has been created on the New Albany campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College. It will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Thursday after the holidays.
The New Albany/Union County program was put together in record time. All of those who helped deserve our congratulations.