Mindset matters to preschool improvement
Pastor Lonnie Wesley III was on fire.
He was holding in his hands the state’s assessment of kindergarten students entering school for the first time. And he couldn’t believe his eyes. Only a handful of children were “ready for kindergarten” after they graduated from his school, Greater Little Rock Preschool near downtown Pensacola, in May 2017 and started kindergarten three months later.
“I was hopping mad, and thankfully so was my director. My first instinct was to clean house, to start all over,” said Wesley, longtime pastor of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church and founding member of Achieve Escambia. “But I thought more about it, and I decided we needed to change our approach.”
Instead of cleaning house, Wesley decided his Voluntary PreKindergarten (VPK) team needed to change its mindset.
Over the past two years, the Greater Little Rock VPK team has undergone a top-to-bottom culture change. Along the way, they received continuous coaching and support from Joyce Griffin, program assessment and training specialist with the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County - and a critical player in Greater Little Rock’s sea change.