Leaders across the state of Georgia showed their support for early childhood education by joining pre-k students in their classrooms all last week for the sixth annual Georgia Pre-K Week.
The event is organized by Voices for Georgia's Children, a policy and advocacy non-profit organization.
Throughout the week of Oct. 3-7, hundreds of state, business and community leaders visited pre-k classrooms to see firsthand early learning situations and to read some of their favorite books.
Dawson County Board of Education member Karen Armstrong visited with Kilough Elementary School pre-k students on Oct. 5 to read one of her favorite stories to the kids, "Little Red Riding Hood."
"These young students' minds are like a sponge and absorb so much," Armstrong said. "Starting them off early on reading, learning letters and sounds only enhances their ability to learn and make school fun."
The mother of two has been on the school board for two years and spent years volunteering in the local schools as PTSO president, on school councils and as a team manager.
"I also think preschool gives these young students' social skills and helps them interact with others," she said.
Pre-k teacher at Kilough, Lynn Hess, has taught for 12 years at the elementary level including three years in a pre-k classroom.
"Georgia's Bright From the Start Pre-K is truly a developmental preschool program," Hess said. "It allows me to meet each student's learning needs regardless of his/her individual developmental stage. I love being a teacher in this program, because I am free to create an environment where children are encouraged to take risks and grow!"
Kilough principal Tracey Compton said she believes the program is a vital educational component.
"Young children's earliest learning experiences can have powerful and profound long-term effects on their cognitive, social and emotional development," Compton said. "The KES pre-k program consists of rich and high quality learning experiences and tasks that promote and improve student achievement and reduces the opportunity for achievement gaps."
State Representative Kevin Tanner visited Riverview Elementary and State Senator Steve Gooch visited Char's Family Daycare Center. Superintendent Damon Gibbs, City Councilwoman Angie Smith and Chamber of Commerce President Christie Haynes also scheduled reading times in programs across the district.
"Having other individuals coming in taking an interest in them shows that not only their parents and teachers care about their education, but their community does as well," Armstrong said.
"I can only speak from my own experience, but pre-k really helped both my kids, who are now 21 and 19 and excel in their school life."