Closing the School Entry Gap
As early as the 1988-1989 school year, the Tupelo Public School District demonstrated its recognition and commitment to the importance of preparing four-year-old children for success in school. The validation of this commitment was realized with the creation of a pre-kindergarten program designed to serve four year old children. This dedication by the leadership of the Tupelo Public School District to the success of young children was further acknowledged through Goals 2000 when the U.S. Department of Education said "having all children ready for school" was a national priority.
While the leadership of the Tupelo Public School District has changed across time, the commitment to serving the learning needs of four year old children has never faltered. The early childhood program has also changed and grown across the years, moving from classrooms located in various elementary schools to a centralized site designed, equipped, and staffed to meet the unique educational needs of pre-kindergarten children.
Today, the district's early childhood program is located in the Martin Luther King, Jr. building on North Green Street. Some 200 four year old children are served daily in a student-centered, family oriented environment. A well-defined curriculum, delivered through learning-centered activities supports children in acquiring the readiness skills necessary for kindergarten and success through their active involvement and immersion in pre-reading, pre-mathematics, and pre-writing skills. The development of creativity, cooperation, curiosity and self-confidence is encouraged and cultivated as teachers and students work and learn together in hands-on, active instruction. This outstanding center for the support and education of young children received both state and national recognition in 1999 when it was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as a "Distinguished School" and also received the "Mississippi Governor's Award."
The benefits of the TPSD early childhood education program are numerous and include both short-term and long-term results. Four year old children have a school dedicated to their success that is staffed by highly qualified, caring adults who develop and support the natural desire of young children to learn. Children who attend the district's four year old program are able to experience immediate success as kindergarten students who have closed or eliminated the school entry achievement gap. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the program is found among students in the district's fourth through eighth grade classes where eighty-five percent of former early childhood education students are successful in scoring at/or above national average on measures of achievement.
Needless to say, the Tupelo Public School District is extremely proud of the work of the children, teachers, and staff of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Early Childhood Education Center. Excellence is exhibited daily through a shared belief and commitment that "children truly are first." For more information about this program, please contact the Early Childhood Education Center by calling 840-5237.