Southern Pearl River County community becomes Excel By 5 certified

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 17, 2017

Now that the Pearl River County community officially became a certified Excel By 5 community through the work of the Southern Pearl River County coalition, a resource center recently opened in Picayune. The coalition includes members from the Pearl River County and Picayune school districts.
Picayune Early Head Start Research and Data Manager Dr. Sonya Myers said the journey to becoming certified started in April 2015 when community members coordinated to gather the necessary resources to provide this program to children younger than 5 living in the southern communities of Pearl River County.
Excel By 5 is a community-based program designed to guide children to an improved overall well-being before they reach 5-years-old, according to the Excel By 5 website. The program involves parent training and community participation to support children and their families, with the main goal of ensuring every child is ready to learn by the time they reach 5-years-old, which is generally the age children begin kindergarten.
“Excel By 5 brings a continuous awareness of how important early childhood education development is,” Dr. Pam Thomas, Picayune Early Head Start director, said. “This will help these young children get off to a great start, which is the best way to ensure a great ending to their education.”
Excel By 5 also emphasizes the importance communities play in the advancement of the education their children need during their most formative years, according to the Excel By 5 website.
The Picayune School District’s Early Head Start program received funding from Families First for Mississippi to open a new Picayune Family Resource and Education Center, located at 900 East 3rd St. in Picayune. The new center provides resources for families within the Picayune and Carriere communities.
“This is a perfect marriage between our Excel By 5 program and the Families First for Mississippi. Over the course of two years, we have developed the resources to help kids from birth to 5-years-old, but with the help from Families First, we are now able to assist children of all ages and their families.”
The center provides assets such as a computer lab, diploma program, parent training, enhanced literacy support and positive youth development classes, an Excel By 5 release states. The center hosts many benefits, from helping children prepare for kindergarten to helping older students acquire their GED or high school diploma. Even parents can receive assistance to help their children accomplish their aspirations, Thomas said.
Thomas would like to thank everyone involved in making this happen.
“This process of getting certified has brought the community together as a correlation to work on a common cause,” Thomas said. “When you look at a community as a whole, who is going to play a vital role in the community? As children grow up, they become adults and they might go into city government or even start the next small business in the community.”
Thomas said her main goal is to make sure children receive the best possible education from birth to 12th grade, which is what the Picayune Family Resource and Education is able to provide.
The grand opening for the Picayune Family Resource and Education Center will be on March 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the center and will include tours as well as a chance for families to sign up for upcoming training sessions.

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