The New Albany Kiwanis Club made a strong commitment to Early Education on Tuesday, February 7 by making the initial contribution to fund the requirements of the EXCEL By 5 initiative. Additional funding is needed for EXCEL By 5. For more information or to make a contribution, contact Lecia Stubblefield or Windy Faulkner. Pictured: New Albany Kiwanis President John Moffitt presents a $5,000 check to Lecia Stubblefield, EXCEL By 5 Co-Certification Manager & Steering Committee Member.

What can we say about early childhood education?  Is it a good thing to wrap a newborn, a toddler or a four-year old in loving kindness and nurture them with thoughtful instruction?

Are parents a child’s first teacher and should they accept ultimate responsibility for nurturing their children? Yes and yes, we all agree.

Should aunts and uncles, grandparents, brothers and sisters all play supporting roles in helping parents nurture their children?  Certainly they should and we can even point to circumstances where grandparents or other family members stepped in and did a wonderful job as a substitute parent.

And what about a church, the local library, a child care center, the family doctor, or a close friend?  Are all of these valuable resources to parents, and their young children and do parents need and deserve their support?  The answer: a unified yes.

So what can we say about early childhood education?  How can communities excel at supporting parents?

Mississippi’s own Excel By 5 is helping communities do just this all across the Magnolia State.  Petal and Pascagoula, Monroe County and Mid-Jackson, West Point and Moss Point were the first to meet certification requirements and be recognized by Excel By 5.  More than twenty other communities are also hard at work.  They’ve all established community coalitions, performed community-wide needs assessments, and they are closing gaps to improve health care, child care, and parent support.

Community leaders representing hospitals, schools, doctors, libraries, parents, and a host of others are coming together to focus on supporting parents and children.  It’s an amazing thing to see what Excel By 5 certified communities and Excel By 5 candidate communities are doing to help children be healthy, happy and ready for school when they reach kindergarten.

“It’s with great pride that I recognize New Albany/Union County as one of the recent additions to Mississippi’s family of Excel By 5 candidate communities,” said Steve Renfroe, President of Excel By 5 Board of Directors.

More and more communities are expressing an interest in Excel By 5.  What better thing could they invest themselves in?  For more information, go to