On Friday, April 13th, area leaders and community members were invited to the Bungalow Inn to honor and celebrate Early Childhood in Manistee County. Over 45 attendees were present to recognize the hard work of starting our children off on the right path in their educational lives.
The luncheon, hosted by Great Start Collaborative and Launch Manistee, is also an opportunity to recognize a group or organization that assists in supporting Early Childhood in Manistee County. The Great Start Readiness Program, Manistee ISD, received the 2018 award. They join past winners such as Consumers Energy Foundation, the Manistee News Advocate and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians as those honored for their hard work and dedication to enriching the lives of our youngest community members.
Through collaboration and several meetings with county schools and agencies, Manistee ISD expanded the opportunity for 4 year olds to attend preschool during the 2017-18 school year. This year, programs were offered at Bear Lake, Kaleva Norman Dickson (Brethren), Next Generation Learning Center and Manistee Area Public Schools. This expansion increased the number of 4 year olds receiving an opportunity for no-cost, high quality preschool from 32 to 56, almost doubling in size this program in this one year period.
Manistee ISD Superintendent Jeff Jennette stated that quality preschool education is vital to a child’s future. “Evidence tells us that a person’s life successes and health and emotional well-being has its roots in early childhood. If we get it right in the early years, we can expect to see children thrive through school and in their adult lives,” said Jennette.
Launch Manistee assists in the process by helping families gain awareness and get access to preschool and early childhood programs. Launch Manistee is a proud member of the Manistee County Preschool Scholarship program which has awarded $6000 to over 20 families in the last two years. These scholarships have helped children of those families to participate in quality preschool settings.
As the need for more children to have access to these experiences increases, a new challenge was introduced at the luncheon by Launch Manistee AmeriCorps VISTA member, Haley Doyle. Donations to the Manistee County Preschool Scholarship program made before the end of September 2018, will be matched with funds up to $2500 from the Great Start Collaborative for future scholarship awards. Donation details can be found on the Manistee County Community Foundation website located here.