April 22, 2013

Week of the Young Child salutes educators

Misty Watson

— Charity King says her 4-year-old son Kobe loves learning and loves going to school.

“We love the teachers,” King said about the pre-kindergarten program at Beaverdale Elementary School. “They do so much with the kids there... He loves learning so much, and they do it in such a fun way.”

The pre-k teachers and staff at Whitfield County and Dalton Public schools, as well as those at some of the area’s private pre-k programs, were honored Sunday afternoon at the Wink Theater during a program for Week of the Young Child. The week, which was April 14-20, is an annual celebration to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. The focus this year was on the educators.

“I go into classrooms on a regular basis to know what needs to happen for policy,” said Bobby Cagle, with Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. “It takes a lot of energy to teach a classroom full of 4-year-olds. Dalton and Whitfield County are truly successful in doing great things for its children.”

He said it’s important to encourage teachers.

“Children who have great teachers... have the foundation they need,” Cagle said.

Judy Gilreath, superintendent of the Whitfield County School System, and Jim Hawkins, superintendent of Dalton Public Schools, echoed Cagle’s remarks.

Gilreath said those who read better do better in life so Whitfield County School System focuses on giving pre-k children the tools they need to start reading in kindergarten.

“I’m not sure we have it all figured out, but we are willing to work until we do,” she said. “It’s an exciting time to be an educator here in Whitfield County.”

Hawkins said children deserve to have a good start, and that the country depends on them to have a good start.

“I’m proud to be part of a community where so many people work for children,” Hawkins said. “We’re working to build a community where we have readers and leaders.”