MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – The Muscle Shoals Early Learning Center (MSELC) officially opened its doors on August 8.

The MSELC has been in development for around a year and a half. Teachers there told News 19 that they dealt with several last-minute preparations, but that they were ready to give kids a fun, educational, and safe learning environment.

“In a place like this, what we do is focus on learning centers. And so the kids are learning as they’re playing,” said Bethany Pettus, one of the school’s teachers. “You might walk in our classroom and think we’re just playing all the time. Well, we are playing, but we’re playing with a purpose.”

News 19 recently reported that over one-fifth of all third-grade students are not proficient readers. School Director Dr. Denise Woods told News 19 that they are putting a heavy emphasis on literacy in their curriculum to help their students in this area.

“We want to read to them constantly so that they’re hearing the written word,” Woods said, “and when they get to the point that they’re ready to begin the reading process, they know what that sounds like.”

Dr. Woods also said that they would be focusing on numeracy and counting as well.

The school is currently at limited capacity while final preparations are made. The school will return to full capacity starting Monday, August 15.