Meridian's first Pre-K teachers
Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Dec. 16, 2001
Belinda Kerley and Beth Phillips say they love teaching Little Stars at Oakland Heights Elementary because their students love to learn.
The district's early childhood education program began with one class at Oakland Heights in the 1995-1996 school year. Kerley was the teacher.
There are more than 100 benchmarks handed down by the Mississippi Department of Education early childhood teachers follow to prepare students for kindergarten.
Little Stars learn their names, and their colors and shapes. They are taught an awareness of numbers and how to respond appropriately to spoken language.
Phillips said she focuses on social skills in her class and everything else the children learn is "icing on the cake." She teaches the Little Stars to do what their teacher asks, line up, keep their hands to themselves and listen well so that when they enter kindergarten they will be ready to learn their letters and numbers.
Both Kerley and Phillips previously taught kindergarten and elementary classes, but they seem to have found their niche with 4-year-olds. Kerley said the early childhood education program began because kindergarten teachers, herself included, found many children were a little behind developmentally when they started school.