Peach State preschools can officially say they've made the national grade. The National Institute for Early Education Research, or NIEER, has released its annual preschool report, revealing that Georgia ranks among the best in the nation for enrollment and resources.
NIEER evaluated all state-funded preschool programs across the country, focusing on access, quality standards and funding, and where most states are failing, Georgia excels.
A child's life is often shaped by his or her early educational experiences.
"It makes me feel very honored and it rewards me to know that I'm teaching my children the things they would use throughout their years in school," says Natalie Sullivan, a Balfour Preschool teacher.
In its annual state preschool yearbook, the National Institute for Early Education Research classifies three state programs as exemplary, Georgia, Oklahoma, and New Jersey. The report says Georgia offers preschoolers one of the most easily accessible, well funded, and well-attended pre-k programs in the country.
Teachers at Balfour Preschool say years of hard work have built up their status. They say receiving an honor like this one has been a collaborative effort between staff, parents, and students across the state.
"We give parenting training to help the parents do the best they can do so when their child comes to school, they're ready to learn," says Tammy Poole.
"We provide a lot of opportunities that they succeed in the classroom. So that gives them the self-confidence to go out in this world," says teacher Chrissy Wheeler.
Educators here say training their preschoolers to be self-confident gives the teachers the confidence to provide a good education, sending Georgia to the head of its class.
The state of Florida wasn't rated because it isn't required to have a pre-k program yet. A Constitutional amendment passed in 2002 says one must be in place statewide by 2005, so we'll see how Florida does the next time.
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