Glen Stevens

J.Z. George High School Principal Glen Stevens stands among new computer stations in the school's library that can be directed to a smart board on the wall. Stevens says the technology is available for all teachers and can be used by entire classes.

NORTH CARROLLTON — Two new programs in Carroll County Schools for the upcoming year are expected to help students on two fronts – preparedness for school and for the  working world.

A pre-kindergarten program will assist children in learning important skills so they will be ready to go to kindergarten. A new technology class in the high school is aimed at showing students some real-world applications using science and math are along with technology.

Pete Pearson, who worked at Takata Industries in Greenwood before becoming a high school teacher, will instruct students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, which is changing the technology discovery class to include more engineering skills. The class will include a lot of math and science, Pearson said.

“We'll have them do a series of projects — some individual, some group-based — like they would in their job and career,” Pearson said. “We’ll have them do reports so they will understand how to communicate what they’ve learned.”

Teachers in this new curriculum area around the state share information about projects they are using. “There’s a wide range of projects, so that you can tailor them to what works best for our students,” he said.

While there are state objectives for the class — competencies the students are expected to meet — there is flexibility, he said.

On the early childhood front, Carroll County is seeking to assist federal programs such as Head Start in preparing more children for learning. Because of Mississippi’s poverty level and under-educated populace, many students begin without basic knowledge, slowing the pace of their learning to read.

Mississippi’s business leaders have been concerned about the level of the citizens’ literacy and the relationship of literacy to early learning. Recently, the Mississippi Economic Council has had a campaign of education about this early learning need with so many of the state’s children and how it relates to the state’s future in economic development.

Marshall Elementary School Principal Laura Curry says she has wanted for years to help in the area of preschool readiness, so she is very pleased that the superintendent and board have  approved two new classes for preschoolers.

“Kindergarten teachers have talked to me about skills children need to have for kindergarten, and parents have talked to me. Day care is expensive, and not all children qualify for Head Start,” Curry said. “The school board approved two sections of classes, with no more than 16 in each class.”

Many parents are interested in getting their children into the classes, Curry said. “The phones have been blowing up with parents ready and wanting to get the children enrolled. Hopefully in the future, we can have as many sections as we need,” she said.

Curry hopes community and parental involvement will be strong for the new program. She also hopes it will help youngsters who have to struggle and often do not catch up with their better-prepared classmates.

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