Pre-K program adds classes at public housing

By Staff
NEW PREKINDERGARTEN CLASS Kareus Hampton, left, and his brother, Symadre Hickman, talk at Cedar Bend Apartments on Tuesday while their mother, Karen Hampton, back left, talks about prekindergarten with Reola Daniels, Title I instructional supervisor for Meridian Public Schools. Hampton is one of about 90 students in Meridian's housing developments who will begin prekindergarten in the fall. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
June 9, 2004
Karen Hampton of Meridian cried with happiness Tuesday when she learned her son, Kareus, will attend a new public school prekindergarten class that starts this fall at Western Gardens.
Hampton, who lives at Cedar Bend apartments on Old Highway 80 West, said she is glad her son will start school this fall because she wants him to have the best possible education.
Kareus is one of about 90 students who will attend one of four Meridian public school prekindergarten classes this fall at public housing developments Western Gardens, Eastern Gardens, Magnolia Court and Frank Berry Courts.
Meridian public schools recently received more than $270,000 in grants from The Phil Hardin Foundation and The Riley Foundation. The money will fund five prekindergarten teachers and teacher assistants.
Working together
The foundations, along with The Meridian Housing Authority and Meridian Public School District, are working together to fund and operate the prekindergarten classes for the 2004-2005 school year.
Meridian School Superintendent Sylvia Autry said she believes the Meridian program is the first in the state to place prekindergarten classes in public housing developments.
Autry said she wanted the school district to reach out to residents in public housing developments because she believes the school district can better meet the needs of the children who live there.
At a school board meeting Monday, board members voted to spend more than $50,000 on materials for the classes. The board also voted to spend about $13,000 on a van to deliver lunches to the sites.
Reola Daniels, Title I instructional supervisor for the school district, is over the new pre-kindergarten classes. She said the school district wants to help younger children be academically successful.
Spreading the word
Daniels, Oakland Heights Elementary School Principal Kim Benton and Parents as Teachers coordinator Grethchen Luvene said they have spent a lot of time visiting housing developments and knocking on doors to tell parents about the new classes.
Daniels said the classes are not full, and they want parents to know that they are available and convenient.
Ron Turner Sr., deputy director of the Meridian Housing Authority, said he hopes the prekindergarten classes will lead to a better quality of life for the residents of the housing developments.

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