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State senator, llamas come to Kids World
Jack Hill kicks off Georgia Pre-K Week
Senator Jack Hill kicked off Georgia Pre-K Week on Monday as he does most years: reading to children at Kids World Learning Center in Statesboro. - photo by JULIE LAVENDER/staff

State Senator Jack Hill kicked off Georgia Pre-K Week at Kids World Learning Center in Statesboro with a llama in his pocket – a stuffed toy one – and an oral reading of “Llama Llama, Red Pajama,” by Anna Dewdney.

The Pre-K students were even treated to a visit from live llamas following story time with Sen. Hill.

Now in its ninth year, Georgia Pre-K Week takes place this week, October 7-11.

“We are proud to help lay a sturdy foundation for our children that will ensure they get a strong start both academically and in life,” said Michelle Smith Lank, director of Kids World Learning Center. “The enthusiasm and support we receive from partners across the state not only makes the children and staff feel good, it also reminds us how important it is to value early learning so that children can continue through school and life able and ready to learn.”

Sen. Hill has been actively involved with the movement since its inception, reading to kids at various locations over the years. Hill will read to an Effingham County Pre-K during the week, too.

“Longitudinal study shows that kids that go to Pre-K have a head start in learning to learn skills,” Hill said. “Many that lack the experience start off slightly behind.”

Hill, who said he doesn’t have a particular favorite children’s book, said that he’s enjoyed all the books he’s read over the years to pre-kindergarten students and remembers one challenging reading.

“They sort of tricked me into reading a book about prehistoric animals,” Hill said with a smile. “I couldn’t hardly pronounce some of those words. But there happened to be a young student who had a learning disability and could be hard to control at times. He was so interested in the book that he listened to every word.”

Emphasizing the value of reading to children, Hill said he’d always read to his own children and grandchildren. “The youngest are 9-year-old twins, though, so now they read to me.”

Georgia’s Pre-K Program was the brainchild of Gov. Zell Miller in 1992 and has now served 80,536 children.  It operates in all of the state’s 159 counties. Georgia is one of only 10 states and Washington, D.C. that provide Pre-K to more than 50% of all 4-year-old state pupils.

“The broad and diverse base of support from around our state is evidence that Georgia’s leaders care about and understand the long-term impact of quality early learning on each child,” said Dr. Erica Fener Sitkoff, executive director of Voices for Georgia’s Children. “Research consistently shows that children entering kindergarten from quality early learning settings are more prepared and ready to learn, which our leaders see first-hand during Pre-K Week.”

Georgia Pre-K Week is organized each year by Voices for Georgia’s Children, a policy and advocacy non-profit organization, with the full support of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

Kids World Learning Center has been in operation for 14 years and has been a part of the Georgia Pre-K Program all 14 of those years. Kids World Learning Center has grown to three Georgia Pre-K classrooms, with 66 of the almost 200 children served by Kids World Learning Center daily.    


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