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Poarch Creek kids get an Even Start

By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
When the education program for 4-year-olds begins at Poarch Creek, it will be the first of its kind in the state, perhaps in the nation, said Buck Powell, superintendent of Escambia County Schools
The program, known as Even Start, is a federally funded program for at risk children. It is novel in that it is the first one on a reservation.
But it does not stop with the children who attend the program.
There are four facets to the program, said Sara Davis, early childhood and elementary coordinator for Escambia County schools.
First is child-to-teacher, in which the child and teacher work together toward educational goals in a structured setting.
Second is one in which the child and parent work with the teacher so that the parent is able to help the child with his or her schooling.
Third is parent to teacher, where the parent either works toward a GED or takes parenting classes. The fourth facet of the program is that if the child has siblings at nearby Huxford Elementary who are 7 or younger, they are also served by the program with after school tutoring.
"We are here to confirm the partnership of Escambia County Board of Education with the Poarch Creek Band of Indians to implement this program," Davis said.
"We are extremely proud of what this is going to do for our 4-year-old children. This is not a day care, this is an educational program."
So far all 20 children enrolled in the program are members of the Creek tribe, but the program will serve other children as well, provided they meet the criteria.
"This started as the seed of an idea," said Stephanie Rolin, representing Tribal Chairman Eddie Tullis.
"Getting it to this point, where there are children here, getting an even start, is wonderful. And to be able to offer it on the reservation, to tribal members and others, is tremendous. This is the starting of a long and prosperous partnership. That seed of an idea got tender care and is now coming to fruition."