Fulton Head Start received a donation of new children’s books valued at over $1,500 this week.

When Sandy Prestage of Fulton decided to host a Facebook photo contest, she knew she wanted to incorporate a way to give back to a deserving organization that represented the local community.

“Once we decided to move forward, I knew I wanted the donations to go here [Fulton Head Start],” Prestage told The Times.

Prestage partnered with her long-time friend and Usborne Books consultant, Megan Tull, who is also a former student at Fulton Head Start, to raise money for replenishing the children’s library at the school.

Tull and Usborne agreed to match fifty percent of the amount raised by Prestage. Ultimately, the two were able to raise $1,500 to not only provide books for the school library but also to provide each student with a copy of the popular Usborne title “Animally” by Lynn Parish Sutton.

“We are very thankful for the wonderful donation of books,” Bettie Ratliff, FHS Administrator told The Times. “We love books and have already have sent them out and the teachers have read them to the students.”

Ratliff said FHS’s Unit 2 has already been using the book to teach their 4-year-olds to follow along in preparedness for kindergarten. It’s one of the many benefits of Head Start according she said.

“It’s a beginning for the children, not the only beginning, but one that is very important in preparing them for the next step,” she added.

It’s a step that’s working for Head Start programs. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi in its latest report on pre-K quality as one of only six states whose state-funded pre-K program meets all 10 quality standards for early childhood education.

Ratliff said this week is their “Push” week for reaching out into the community to promote the benefits of Head Start and register new students.

Students who register now will be eligible to begin classes in August. It’s unclear as of now if the virtual classes, which were offered during the 2020-2021 school year in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will be offered in the next school year.

“We’re anxious to get back to a normal school setting sometime in the future,” she said. “As soon as we can we want to reinstate our added programs like ‘Donuts with Dads.’ and have volunteers again. We just can’t right now.”

Ratliff told the Times the on-site students are in classes with a ten to two ratio of students to teachers and each class has its own air filtration system. It’s one of the many precautions the center has in place amid the decreasing but ongoing pandemic.

For those interested in registering their children, FHS Family Community Worker Karen Brewer will be accepting registration information over the phone as parents are not currently allowed inside the school.

Parents or guardians of prospective students will need the following documents in order to register:

• Certified Birth Certificate

• 121 shot record

• proof of income for one year (W2 plus 3 recent check stubs)

• Social Security Card

• copy of the student's health insurance card

Any allergies or medical conditions the student has will need appropriate documentation from a health professional.

Children must turn four years old by September 1, 2021, to qualify for enrollment in Head Start. Children as young as eight weeks old can qualify for the Early Head Start program.

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