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Education Corner: RCS looks to future with purchase of Mars Hill

FRANKLIN LIVING— In a field like education where things are ever-changing and evolving, it is so important to focus on forward thinking and looking to the future, whether it’s for the district as a whole, for curriculum, for technology – or for things like accommodating extra students and offering them better opportunities.

Russellville City Schools did this recently by coming to an agreement with Mars Hill Bible School to purchase the building where the existing Mars Hill Preschool is housed in Russellville.

After Mars Hill officials made it known they were planning to close this facility at the end of this school year, several of us at RCS saw this as an opportunity to expand our current Pre-K program and offer twice the amount of space we have now.

Ever since its inception, our Pre-K program has been limited in the number of Pre-K classes we could offer because of the space issues we have at West Elementary. Purchasing this building and moving all Pre-K classes here, however, allows the chance for expansion of the Pre-K program while also freeing up much-needed space at WES. And thanks in large part to Rep. Jamie Kiel and his forward thinking, we were able to make this happen.

Rep. Kiel knows the importance of Pre-K and the quality of Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Program, which we utilize at RCS. He even arranged a meeting at the building with Alabama’s Secretary of Early Childhood Education, Jeanna Ross. His efforts, along with the support of Russellville Mayor David Grissom and City Councilman Jamie Harris, were instrumental in this acquisition that will allow us to go from three Pre-K classes to six to serve a total of 108 students.

This is great news for the people of our community with children who are Pre-K age. The educational foundation children receive is vitally important to how the rest of their educational careers will go. Having this opportunity available to our students sets them up for success, and that is our goal for all of our students: to give them all the tools we can to help them succeed, both now and in the future.

Pre-K is also a great way for our impoverished students and English Language Learning students to get a better start on learning the prerequisites they need for kindergarten and beyond. With RCS having a higherthannormal percentage of both these student populations, we know expanding the Pre-K program will be beneficial for everyone involved.

I am so thankful to work at a district and with a school board that is committed to forward thinking and that invests in our students and their futures, and I am thankful to have city leaders and a state representative who are forward thinkers as well. With everyone working together, we can continue to offer a high level of education here at RCS.

Heath Grimes is the superintendent of Russellville City Schools. He and his wife Amy have three daughters: Leah, Halle and Erin.