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UM establishes graduate center for the study of early learning

The University of Mississippi School of Education has established a new center to provide research and collaborative leadership to support the growth and development of quality early childhood education throughout the state.

Financed with more than $121,000 in external funding from The Phil Hardin Foundation, UM’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning was recently officially approved by the Mississippi Institutes of Higher Learning.

“Our primary purpose is to raise visibility of the importance of early childhood education,” said Cathy Grace, the center’s co-director. “We hope to collaborate with all stakeholders and to share innovative ideas and collectively work toward a better education system for all Mississippi children.”

Above all, the new center is dedicated to providing pre-K stakeholders — including students, teachers, teacher educators, school administrators, policymakers, elected officials, parents, community members and more — with valuable data and research findings about early childhood education programs in Mississippi. The center will also provide research on methods to overcome challenges in the pre-K field, particularly in high-needs districts.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a pre-K leader as influential and talented as Dr. Grace to lead this new center,” said David Rock, dean of the UM School of Education. “We have the opportunity to make a dramatic impact in the area of early childhood education. We must be willing to invest not only money, but our time and effort in pre-K education because we know the critical impact it will have on the future achievement and advancement of our state and nation.”