CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Lloyd Jackson, a long-time advocate of early childhood education in West Virginia and a member of the state Board of Education, has been named the first recipient of the West Virginia Champion of Pre-K Award.
The award was presented Wednesday at the West Virginia Department of Education’s Pre-K Leadership Summit in Charleston by the West Virginia Pre-k Steering Team. The interagency advisory team includes members from the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Head Start Collaboration Office.
"I am honored to receive this award,” Jackson said. “Working together, our school system, DHHR, Head Start and private providers have crafted a pre-K system that is a model for the rest of the nation, and I am proud to have been associated with this effort.”
As former chairman of the state Senate Education Committee, Jackson spearheaded efforts that led to the passage of legislation creating the Universal Pre-K program in West Virginia. The progressive state law requires universal preschool be available to all of the state’s 4-year-olds by the 2012-2013 school year. The law has boosted not only preschool enrollment but also kindergarten participation. In addition, West Virginia has repeatedly received national accolades for its preschool programs since its adoption.
“Early childhood education, through Universal Pre-K, is one area where West Virginia is overcoming societal obstacles to help children start their academic careers on a firm foundation,” said state Superintendent Jorea Marple. “Research shows that high-quality pre-K can help improve the educational success of all children, decrease dropout rates, crime and delinquency, and improve economic productivity and health. That’s important in a state like West Virginia where more than 50 percent of public school students are needy.”
Across the state, about 16,000 children are enrolled in about 1,050 West Virginia Universal Pre-K classrooms. Most of the classrooms, about 72 percent, are collaborative with community partners, including Head Start and private childcare providers.
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