For Immediate Release - Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: August 20, 2010

Early Pre-K Pilot Programs at Southwest Helped Pave the Way for Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program

Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-kindergarten program has now been implemented statewide, according to a recent announcement from the state of Tennessee, extending to every school district in all 95 counties of the state (http://news.tennesseeanytime.org/node/5667). Mary Palmer, director of Child Care Centers for Southwest Tennessee Community College, said the college’s Early Childhood Center on the Union Avenue Campus and the Campus Kids Center on the Macon Cove Campus were among the original Pre-K pilots in Tennessee launched in 1997. The program, explained Palmer, targets three and four year olds. “It really helps because the children are with the teachers for an extended period of time. The three-year-old children have the same curriculum, they are accessed by the same researched-based standards and they get the same type of exposure as the older children,” said Palmer.

Mike McWherter, Tennessee gubernatorial candidate visited the Union Avenue Campus Early Childhood Center on August 16 where he spoke about the long term benefits of the Pre-k Program. “When you talk to second and third grade teachers who have had students who have gone through this program, they tell you that there is a world of difference between the children who have been exposed to pre-k and the ones who have not had this exposure. Common sense just tells you that, long term, if you can capture a child at this age and foster a love of learning right now, they’re going to be much more productive citizens,” McWherter said.

McWherter was asked to comment on the state legislation passed last January, calling for a comprehensive statewide community college system. “Tennessee needs to do a better job of utilizing community colleges, technology centers, and vo-tech centers. These kinds of resources have been overlooked far too long in our educational system,” stated McWherter. “Regarding the transfer of credits,” he continued, “if a person wants to come here [Southwest] and then go on to a four year institution, that is great. But, I am delighted with the changes they’ve made about transferring credits, because I guarantee you getting an English credit in a community college is comparable to getting one in our four year institutions.”

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Photo Caption: McWherter reads Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown to an audience of kids from two-and-a-half to five-years old. The children loved the story – laughing, reciting the words and answering questions as McWherter enlisted their participation. 

For more information contact: Brenda J. Rayner, (901) 333-4247, bjrayner@southwest.tn.edu, Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134