Early Childhood Academy now open at EMCC

Coaching and professional development specialist Carolyn Harris, left, and resource and referral center associate Michelle Cleveland, staff the Early Childhood Academy that recently opened on East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle campus.

A new resource is available for childcare professionals and families in the Golden Triangle and beyond, with the opening of the Early Childhood Academy on East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle campus.

The academy began in November and exists to provide resources to ensure children up to five years old are prepared to enter kindergarten. The academy will provide training for childcare professionals and resources, including toys, games, books and more for childcare professionals.

Parents and family with children in the age range can also check out resources free of charge.

“We came on in November,” said resource and referral center associate Michelle Cleveland. “We have been working on ordering supplies, ordering materials, getting the room set up. We are kind of located in a temporary space for now, but we’ll be moving in a few months to a bigger space.”

Tools for childcare providers to use, including a die-cut machine and a laminating machine, are also available.

“It would be anyone who is licensed through Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) that is also certified to receive the childcare payment program certificate,” Cleveland said. “We have directors of childcare centers, we have the teachers, cooks, anyone employed at one of those centers can sign up for our trainings.”

Training dates can be found on the MDHS website and the center will also offer monthly community events for children. The first of these is scheduled for Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“We will also have classes for moms, with specialists providing information on things like prenatal care, breast feeding and infant development,” Cleveland said. ”We will also team up with EMCC’s Nursing students, who will be doing nutrition, health and exercise activities with children.”

The program is funded by a grant from the Mississippi Community College Board with support from Gov. Phil Bryant, providing for an academy at each of the state’s community colleges.

The EMCC academy was one of the last to be set up since the program’s inception approximately a year ago.

Coaching and professional development specialist Carolyn Harris said the center would add a much-needed resource to early childhood education in the area.

“We just want the people in the EMCC service area to know that we’re here and to please to come out and take advantage of the opportunities we provide for providers, childcare and families,” Harris said.

The center’s hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. The center is currently located in The Douglas Building across from the adult basic education launch pad.