Ryda Worthy of South Mississippi Regional Library Marion and Jefferson Davis counties in Mississippi writes, “Our library system has been involved with Excel by 5 in Marion County since 2017, when a interest meeting was held. As a result of our partnership with the Columbia-Marion County Excel by 5 Coalition, we have developed a Family Resource Center in our Columbia library. All of these materials are available to the public for free check out. Excel by 5 also assists us in providing a four-week Kindergarten Readiness program each summer.
Worthy said “Our partnership with Excel by 5 has been so beneficial that Jefferson Davis County, which our library system also serves, is now interested in pursuing Excel by 5 certification as well.”
As part of this collaboration in Marion County, “Our library also created a Womb Literacy program for expectant mothers that encourages them to read to their unborn child to help establish literacy routines before they are born. A large component of this program is also the distribution of information on child development and infant mortality that we receive from Excel by 5.
“One of the things Excel by 5 works very hard on is providing free training for early childhood educators. Our community coach, Cathy, introduced us to a trainer from the Mississippi Department of Human Services who now uses our library meeting room monthly to provide training to all of our local preschool and daycare instructors and directors to ensure they are up to date on all the latest childhood development and health information. Our Excel by 5 coalition participates in community events, distributing information and providing families with free developmental screenings.”
Furthermore, thanks to this collaboration, library staff have been able to participate in “conferences the State Excel by 5 organization hosts” that have provided “library staff with wonderful resources that they have put to use serving our community. Excel by 5 has helped us show our local government and business community that early childhood education and development is a workforce development component.”
Dee Hare, Director, Northeast Regional Library System, serving Alcorn, Prentiss, Tippah, and Tishomingo counties, added that “I have only been working with Excel by 5 for less than a year but have already seen how great their partnership with libraries can be. Currently, the only Resource Center is at the city elementary school, so we have plans to make a second Resource Center in the library. Our staff has also started participating in community events, such as a city-wide Back to School event being held soon. The contacts that I have made through the group have also recently led to us participating, for the first time, in the Alcorn County school district’s 3rd grade Literacy Event, where they handed out book bundles to all entering 3rd grade children who attended.”
Patsy Brewer, Director, Waynesboro-Wayne County Library, added that “We have a partnership with the Wayne County Excel by 5 and I am a member of the committee. We have an Excel by 5 Resource Center in our library with items that were purchased with library funds. Our [Excel by 5] group does book giveaways, sponsors an annual Maternity Fair, hosts an Excelebration program each year, and participates in two Wayne County Health Fairs. Two members presented one of the summer reading programs this year, we have a booth at the annual Whistle Stop Festival, and we sponsor childcare training sessions here at the library.”
John Brdecka, Director, Hancock County Library System, added “We also have a very similar relationship, like Wayne County, with our Excel by 5 in Hancock County. I am on the Coalition Committee. During the Summer Library Program, we run congruent programming with Excel by 5 [entitled] ‘Rubber Duckies.’ We also provide expectant mothers with a gift bag that has board books that fit around the pregnant belly of a woman so they can read to their unborn child while still in the womb.”
Finally, Mary Ann Griffin, Director, Sunflower County Library System, said that “I served on the Community Involvement piece and assisted the group with getting informational resources that addressed children ages 0-5. I have attended Excel by 5 conferences and was able to connect with resource people that helped enhance our programs. We were able to connect with Ms. Mississippi and she did her music is medicine program at our local K-2 grade school.”
“Here are some examples that we have done with Excel by 5 [in Sunflower County]: I have an Excel by 5 e-blast that sends out library information: weekly press release of upcoming library programs and flyers. I receive Excel by 5 information such as [the] Kindergarten Readiness Calendar, and the library branches create book displays and programs that address the various themes and topics on the calendar. Excel by 5 provided materials that we turned into learning kits and have added them to our catalog for check out. The library hosted an Excel by 5 Regional meeting where resources were shared.”
Learn more about Excel by 5, an innovative early childhood community certification process focusing on a community’s young children. It emphasizes the important roles parents and early childhood educators play in the lives of children during their most formative years – birth to age 5.