Early education graduation: Mississippi Head Start and Waterford UPSTART prepare nearly 700 children for kindergarten
Children from 25 Head Start sites across Mississippi are now ready to start school thanks to this new partnership
(MOUND BAYOU, Mississippi) August 12, 2019 –The Mississippi Head Start Association (MHSA) and Waterford UPSTART have a common mission to provide educational access and opportunity to every child. This year, a partnership between the two organizations prepared 692 4-year-olds to start school, which they celebrated with graduations across the state on August 9th.
MHSA focuses on the whole child, providing services in early childhood development and education. Meanwhile, Waterford UPSTART provides at-home early education with adaptive software used 15 minutes a day, five days a week. To help with access, Waterford UPSTART provided all the participants with a computer, and about 58% of families also received internet service at no charge.
“One of the cornerstones of Head Start was the equalization of access and opportunity,” said Nita Thompson, director of the Mississippi Head Start Association. “Poor and vulnerable families have the same aspirations and dreams for their children’s future but often are not equipped with the tools or the resources to actualize those dreams. Waterford presented a partnership opportunity to support . . . family involvement in their child’s education, while ultimately positively changing the educational trajectory of each child in the program.”
The collaboration was funded by an anonymous donation and included six agencies across 25 Head Start sites. Waterford UPSTART provided in-person trainings and family engagement nights, giving parents the tools they need to help prepare their children for school.
“It has been an honor to partner with Head Start, a leader in early childhood education,” said Latasha Hadley, senior director at Waterford UPSTART. “Their long history and commendable success in preparing children for deeper learning and brighter futures has been an inspiration, and we look forward to furthering collaboration. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn, and through their hard work these 692 graduates have shown with the appropriate tools, access, and parental engagement, children will leap at the chance.”
Waterford.org is a nonprofit organization that seeks to blend the best aspects of learning science, mentoring relationships, and innovative technologies to form community, school, and home programs that deliver excellence and equity for all learners.
Waterford UPSTART launched in 2009, serving 1,631 Utah children that first year. Designed to overcome traditional barriers to site-based PreK, UPSTART gives parents the tools they need to become their child’s first teacher, including an at-home curriculum of more than 2,500 online reading, science, and math lessons, and 360 digital books, 330 animated songs, and more than 450 instructional hours. To learn more, go to Waterford UPSTART.org.
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