This Saturday the local coalition that organized the Excel by 5 early childhood initiative is celebrating the community’s official certification in the program.
What is promoted as an “Excelebration” will occur from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Park Along the River. There will be free food, music, games, crafts, storytelling and giveaways.
That’s because New Albany and Union County have completed all the requirements to become an Excel by 5 certified community in Mississippi.
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.
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.
Our local program was the ninth in the state to be certified. You’re invited to come join the free fun for the family at the “Excelebration” Saturday at the Park Along the River.