By John Howell Sr.
Six childcare facilities in Panola County have been chosen to participate in a three-year pilot program funded by Entergy Mississippi, Inc. to improve quality of pre-kindergarten education and build a stronger future work force, the utility company has announced.
Panola centers that will participate include Dewberry Daycare, Hoskins Learning Center, Jesus Loves Me Children’s Center, Magnolia Kindergarten Inc., and Treehouse Daycare & Preschool Center, and Just Us Kids Childcare Learning Center.
Entergy has announced a $300,000 grant to Mississippi Building Blocks. The early childhood education program aims to improve the quality of pre-kindergarten and build a stronger future work force.
A $100,000 gift is the first of three installments to be invested in the program over three years.
Mississippi Building Blocks is a three-year pilot program that will serve some 50 childcare centers and 150 early education classrooms throughout the state. Over the life of the pilot, $10.5 million of funding is required, all to be contributed by the private sector.
“Supporting Mississippi Building Blocks is an investment that will pay off in long-term benefits for our state,” said Haley Fisackerly, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Mississippi, Inc. “More and better early childhood education directly affects the success of our children, our communities and our economy. This initiative is critical in Mississippi, where there is no statewide pre-K program.”
“I’m pleased this pilot program will be offered in our community,” said George P. Cossar, III, customer service manager for Entergy Mississippi, Inc. in Panola County.
“Mississippi Building Blocks will give families and children the support they need to build a solid foundation for success,” he said.
Program organizers will provide incentives to child care centers for participating. These include on-site mentors, classroom materials and scholarships to help pre-school teachers obtain Child Development Associate certification and associate degrees in child development technology.
“It’s beneficial to the teachers and the students,” said Michael Dixon, executive director at Hoskins Learning Center.
“We pilot with them; the teachers can receive Certified Daycare Accreditation,” Dixon continued.
The center will receive toys and instructional material in addition to the training, he said.
Beverly Willis, a supervisor for Mississippi Building Blocks visited Hoskins Learning Center Friday, observing and preparing for visits by mentors.
“Mississippi Building Blocks is committed to improving school readiness and work force development,” said Dr. Laurie Smith, executive director of Mississippi Building Blocks. “Entergy Mississippi’s generous donation will help us meet this commitment by enabling us to purchase needed classroom materials and promote teacher training within participating child care centers.
“Good corporate citizens like Entergy Mississippi are vital to the successful fulfillment of Mississippi Building Blocks’ mission, and I am grateful for their support,” Smith said.