Senator Elect Doug Jones stressed pre-kindergarten education as one of his “Kitchen Table” campaign promises.
Local and state leaders toured the newly expanded UAH Early Learning Center to meet the growing demand for first class Pre-K teachers in the Tennessee Valley Wednesday.
The state-based early childhood education program is considered by some to be the best in the state and a model for other pre-school programs according to state leaders. The Alabama School Readiness Alliance says the program has been ranked the number one state-funded pre-kindergarten program in the country for quality according to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
“122 new Alabama First Class Pre-K classrooms were added this year across the state. 10 of those were in Madison County, including one at UAH Early Learning Center,” Alabama School Readiness Alliance, Executive Director Allison Muhlendorf.
The UAH Early Learning Center received a $13 million grant in 2017 to help expand their First Class Pre-k classrooms. Director Deana Aumalis believes investing in early education is vital.
“Our belief is that they all need to be given that quality instruction, so being able to do that through those grants is critical for some of the parents,” Aumalis said.
“Our national ranking for student achievement In high school has not changed, so anything we can do at a younger level, that will hopefully get our grades up to better prepare our young people for careers, I’m all for it,” State House District 6 Rep. Phil Williams said.
A new study done on the Alabama First Class Pre-K programs revealed students who participated are more likely to be proficient in reading and math at every grade level.
Williams is giving the UAH early learning center $5,000. That money will go toward technology like smartboards, tablets and computers to add to classrooms and the overall learning experience.