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Early childhood education becoming a focus for Webster Parish

by Amber McDown

At this month’s school board meeting, three administrative job descriptions were updated due to a key supervisor’s upcoming retirement. The plan is to create a new position without adding an additional employee.

The job descriptions updated were for the supervisors of Elementary; Curriculum, Instruction, and Accountability; and Student Service / Child Welfare and Attendance. 

Ms. Yolanda Palmer, the Federal Programs Director who oversees the federal funds, will be retiring in June after many years of service to Webster Parish. Superintendent Rowland would like to use this opportunity to redistribute her responsibilities to other positions. For example, the oversight of Title II money, which is earmarked for professional development, would become the responsibility of the Supervisor of Curriculum, Instruction, and Accountability.

One of the reasons Mr. Rowland wants to make these changes is that he would also like to create a new position without adding to the number of employees. The newest position would be for a supervisor of children ages birth to second grade.

“The educational success of a child is critical based on what they get birth to three,” Mr. Rowland said. “Research shows that students that have some type of affiliation or exposure to some type of early childcare center, preschool, Head Start, definitely have an advantage over students who come to us in kindergarten with nothing. It’s amazing the difference between the capabilities there.” 

At this time, there are approximately 1,200 children in Webster Parish who have not and who probably will not receive any formal schooling before entering the public school system. While no one expects an infant to participate in formal lessons, the ability to contact new parents, teach them about activities that will aid their children’s development, and make them aware of benefits and programs that are available could be a great help to these pre-students. 

As part of this trend to increase and expand the parish’s early childhood education, Mr. Rowland suggested that preK3 classes could be a short term goal to get the parish headed in the right direction. “With the funding that’s available, we could start a preK3 program in Webster Parish soon—where we could get 3-year-olds through the Webster Parish school system.”

Teaching early childhood education requires an additional certification that is available in universities and which many elementary teachers already have. 

After some discussion, the measure to update the job descriptions passed. The new early childhood supervisor position will be considered during next month’s board meeting which will be held at the Harper Pathways to Excellence Center at 6:00 PM on May 2nd. The meeting is open to the public.

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