A recent report ranks Alabama’s pre-K programs second in the nation. The success is causing a push for an increase in funding to allow more children to participate in the programs.
The state provides only enough funding for two percent of 4 and 5-year-olds to attend classes, but in light of this new study that could change.
Celeste may be an ordinary child, but at just 5-years-old she can identify every letter of the alphabet and she's working on reading. She is one of only a few local children benefiting from a state funded pre-K program designed to prepare children to start kindergarten.
Pre-K Teacher Katreena Morris says, "The pre-K program funds 18 kids and we have a waiting system so we need more funds to have many slots."
The pre-K programs are working so well, Alabama was recently recognized nationally for the quality of programs available to children. Pre-K administrators are certain they know why the programs are so successful.
Morris says, "Commitment by teachers and we hired certified teachers who are committed to education."
Children learn to count, identify different sounds and learn to write their own names before ever setting foot inside a kindergarten classroom. Teachers say they judge the effectiveness of their programs by looking at their students.
"From day one to [the] end of the year they have improved,” Morris said. “They didn't know their letter, but now they know their letter and sounds."
And, if you think the program is shortening these children's childhoods, you'd be surprised at what the children feel about going to school.
"One thing is coming to school: you have lots of fun," Pre-K Student Kaleb Pierson said.
Pre-K Student Celeste Corbitt says, "We like to learn, color, and practice graduation."
This is the 8th year Dothan is home to a state funded pre-K program and already there are more applications than there are slots for children.
Brenda Guilford runs the pre-K program in Dothan. She says she has at least enough applications to double her current enrollment.
Until more space is available they use a lottery system to determine which children are selected each year.
If you are interested in enrolling your child in the local pre-K program you can contact the school at 794-3315.