Vernon Parish pilot program targets early learners

By By Lauren Manary / American Press

LEESVILLE — The Vernon Parish school system is one of more than a dozen parishes picked to take part in a state pilot program

designed to better prepare children for kindergarten.

According to the state Department of

Education, the pilot parishes will help determine how to implement the

program for the

rest of the state in its efforts to promote early childhood

education standards. The school system received a $100,000 grant.

Anne Smith, Vernon Parish elementary curriculum coordinator, said the program is well underway locally. “We want students

to enter school to be ready to learn,” she said. “We become stronger not only in our professional development but also in

helping families make sure their child is ready.”

The rollout of the program in the rest of the state will be completed during the 2015-2016 school year.

In fall 2012, 54 percent of Louisiana

children were not ready for kindergarten, according to a state Education


report. Cheree Atkin, Vernon Parish program coordinator for LA4/8g

and Pre-K, said the goal is to see 80 percent of children

enter kindergarten ready to learn.

“What we’re finding is we’re getting students who are coming to us and not even developmentally ready for learning,” she said.

The program will reach out to children

at Leesville day care centers Dreams and Discoveries and Love and

Laughter Learning

Academy. The grant will fund special assessment tools that will

determine the children’s kindergarten readiness and will fund

employee training.

A program fun and informational day will be 10 a.m.-noon April 5 at the Leesville Head Start center.