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Program helps summer learning
Five year-old Zariyah Brown struggled to whistle Wednesday as she stood before a mirror at FACES Pre-Kindergarten Center.

The Families and Children's Educational Services Pre-Kindergarten Center is on the campus of Burroughs-Molette Elementary, 1900 Lee St.

"Put your lips together and blow air out to whistle like Peter," teacher Stacy Marshall told Zariyah, who was wearing a straw hat.

Zariyah was learning to whistle during an activity based on the book Marshall was reading to the class called "Whistle for Willie," in which the protagonist, Peter, loses his dog.

Zariyah is one of 32 students enrolled in two summer pre-k classes paid for by a grant from the Georgia Department of Human Services.

The program is a way to prepare children for kindergarten who might not have been able to attend FACES during the school year, said Principal Stephanie Thompson.

"The main focus of our summer school is literacy and math," she said. "The earlier children are exposed to the classroom experience, the better."

Glynn County's two summer classes are among 60 offered statewide for children who were placed on the annual waiting list for the regular fall to spring program. The summer programs give children the chance to become accustomed to school.

Every year, FACES, a statewide pre-k program funded by lottery revenue, has just 484 available spaces during the regular school year in Glynn County.

Thompson would like to take all of them but said 184 children will be on a waiting list next school year because of limited resources.

"We keep a full house throughout the year," she said, adding that if a child leaves the school, someone on the waiting list fills the vacancy.

The waiting list is a fact of life for FACES programs everywhere, Thompson said.

Glynn County has been lucky to keep a full 178-day schedule after funding cuts by the state have forced other counties to reduce pre-k calendars to 160 days, Thompson said.

The school system has done it with local funds.

"We are truly blessed by that in Glynn County," she said.

Glynn County FACES houses 11 of the 22 available classes at its main location. The other 11 classes are spread out among all other elementary schools, except Golden Isles Elementary.

Leaps and Bounds, a pre-school program for special-needs children, also operates out of the main location on Lee Street and is funded with state lottery revenue. Thompson said any child identified as special needs is accepted to the program with no waiting list.

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