HIPPY impresses Rotary

Published 2:16 am Monday, May 15, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
Not all hippies wear beads around their necks, bangles dangling from their wrists and flowers in their hair.
Tuesday afternoon, Sam W. Covert Jr., an area manager with Alabama Power Company, spoke about a very different type of hippie during his presentation to the Atmore Rotary Club.
Covert spoke at length with Rotary Club members and guests about the HIPPY Program, which assists parents of preschool aged children, prepare their child for kindergarten.
"There's nothing happening in Escambia County more important than what's happening in the classroom," Covert said.
HIPPY is an acronym for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters. The program provides parents of three-, four- and five-year-olds with the resources necessary to teach their children in advance the studies they will need when they enter school. The goal of HIPPY is for children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed with parents ready to support them throughout their educational careers.
Covert said the program empowers parents as the primary educators in the home and fosters parental involvement in schools.
"It gives the parents the resources they need to educate their children," Covert said.
HIPPY is a 30-week program that includes nine educational books. Lessons taught include logical thinking, colors and primary shapes.
Covert said the HIPPY Program also promotes bonding between parents and children.
"It's vitally important that we create the best education system we can," Covert said.
A trained advisor meets with parents once a week to teach them that week's lesson and then its up to the parents to spend fifteen minutes to half an hour a day working through the lesson with their child."
Covert shared with Rotarians stories of families in Walker County that didn't have a single piece of printed material in their homes, not a book, magazine or even the Bible, until the HIPPY Program was introduced to them. He said many of the parents who become involved with the program didn't finish high school or receive their GED. He believes having a program such as HIPPY in the Escambia County School System would help end the cycle of below average children entering the school system, but he stressed that it all starts with the parents.
"Our kids value what we value," he said. "If you don't have any printed materials in your home, your kids are never going to value education."
Covert said it costs $1,100 to $1,200 for each child that participates in the HIPPY Program. He spoke with the Rotary Club to stress the importance of such a program and to encourage members and guests to support the program should it be used in the county school system.
"We've got to put the public back into public education," Covert said.
Covert added that the school system would help HIPPY advisors identify children that are in need of the program's assistance.
The children that are currently in the school system are the future of Atmore and surrounding communities in Escambia County, Ala. Covert said assuring those children receive a quality education will help to maintain economic vitality in the future as those same children enter the workforce.

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