MDE Hires Early Childhood Coaches to Support Teachers Statewide

MDE Office of Early Childhood team (from left to right): Front Row: Jayme Jones, Elizabeth Stone, Leigh-Ann Gant, Merry Pennell Second Row (seated in side chairs): Sandra Watkins, Angela Towers, Monica May, Adrienne Mercer Back Row: Kristi Gary, Deeda Paul, Oki Ragins, Joyce Greer, Jill Dent, Candice Taylor, Amanda Adams, Amye Hoskins, Kelly Carmody, Marisa Prewitt Not Pictured: Laura Dickson (Early Learning Collaborative Coordinator)

Thanks to a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Mississippi Department of Education has hired a team of early childhood coaches to help build a high-quality early childhood education infrastructure throughout Mississippi.

The early childhood coaches will support teachers statewide in a variety of pre-K settings to implement developmentally appropriate practices in their classrooms.

Major grant activities include professional development and coaching support, pre-K program evaluation to ensure program quality and student progress, the implementation of developmental assessments for students, and assistance with increasing parents’ participation in their children’s education.

The Kellogg grant has enabled the MDE to expand its Office of Early Childhood from a one-person team in 2015 to an 18-person team with five more to add.

MDE’s Office of Early Childhood oversees the state’s Early Learning Collaboratives (ELC), which provide pre-K services to approximately 2,000 4-year-olds in underserved areas. ELC students outperform students in other public pre-K classes, with 76 percent of ELC students meeting the end-of-year target score in spring 2018, compared to 67 percent in other public pre-K classes.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has recognized Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives for the past three years as one of only five states that meet the majority of its quality standards for early childhood education.