MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — In a little more than a year’s time, a vacant church on 6th Street in Muscle Shoals will become a site dedicated to helping mold young minds and preparing them for the beginning of their educational journey.
The Muscle Shoals City Schools system is growing, and school leaders recognize the need for more resources for its students.
That’s why Superintendent Chad Holden announced the expansion of the system’s First Class Pre-K program, along with the development of a new early learning center.
“We have acquired some property in Muscle Shoals that is commonly known as the First Church of the Nazarene; it’s been closed for some time now,” Holden said. “We have acquired that property and we are planning to open three additional Pre-K classes on that campus in the fall of 2022.”
The state’s First Class Pre-K program is made possible by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education’s Office of School Readiness.
In Muscle Shoals, selection for the program is decided by a lottery of applicants. The system currently only has enough room in its program at Howell Graves Preschool for 18 students, with about 80 families being turned away this school year.
“And for a city our size in a district our size, we should have more than one First Class Pre-K program,” Holden said.
Howell Graves Preschool Principal Sheneta Smith said the program is important in the development of not only the students but also their future classmates.
“These kids really want to help and they’re loving and nurturing to their peers and that’s what you want your kids to know, but you also want them to be highly motivated to want to learn,” Smith said.
The new expansion will give even more students that opportunity.