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HPSD opens new Early Childhood Center

HATTIESBURG, MS. - The Hattiesburg Public School District (HPSD) opened a new and free Early Childhood Development Center across Hawkins Elementary Friday.

The goal of the center is to get 3 to 5 year old children prepared for the public school system.

“I think this opening signifies the important steps our school district is taking to make sure kids are kindergarten ready" says Mayor Toby Barker.

According to Superintendent Robert Williams last year only 27% of the district's students tested at Kindergarten ready.

Superintendent Williams says, “Early Childhood Center is an advantage for our district, we know in our district, that we must aggressively attack early childhood literacy as it relates to kindergarten readiness."

He adds, "We see a significant amount of number of our students that arrive their kindergarten year of school and they are simply not ready.”

The center is an expansion from the district's early childhood programs. “We realized that are children are not entering kindergarten ready so we just really wanted to add to the work that we already have been doing" says Valencia Harris the center's Parent-Educator.

Harris adds, "We started this early childhood initiative to make sure we are preparing our children for kindergarten which ultimately prepares them for college and beyond.”

The center will have five early childhood educators to prepare kids for school. “We allow parents to bring their children here to this Early Childhood Center, and we work with them on early literacy resources that parents may not understand you know fully how to work on those things at home" says Harris.

She adds, "We just provide that additional support so that that they can come here and help transition those students into public school education.”

Superintendent Williams hopes the new center will increase the district's ratings.

“We definitely like to see that increase, of course as we improve early childhood literacy that will change the trajectory of our school district" says Williams.

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