Bright Beginnings receives grant for new pre-k class

Published 6:19 pm Friday, July 12, 2013

If Donnetta Wilkins, owner of Bright Beginnings Learning Center, ever wondered whether or not her passion for early childhood education was making a difference, she need wonder no more.

Gov. Robert Bentley confirmed the success of Bright Beginnings Learning Center when he announced that it was one of 93 voluntary pre-k programs across the state to be awarded funding through the Alabama Office of School Readiness First Class Pre-K Grant.

“We were confident that we had put together a strong grant application, but we knew that we were applying for highly competitive funding,” Wilkins said. “Obviously, we were thrilled to get the news that our grant proposal had been funded.”

Bright Beginnings owner Donetta Wilkins and assistant director Loretta Moore received a grant for the daycare and learning center to add another pre-k class to the center.

Bright Beginnings owner Donnetta Wilkins and assistant director Loretta Moore received a grant for the daycare and learning center to add another pre-k class to the center.

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The grant award will double the size and impact of the 4-year-old component of Bright Beginnings Learning Center, which is a First Class site as part of the Governor’s voluntary pre-k initiative.

“We found out the grant was available in March or April,” Wilkins said. “It was a three-phase process, and we were notified after each phase that we had passed them. They sent someone to our site during one of the phases, and we were later approved for the grant.”

Assistant director of the daycare and learning center Loretta Moore said they are still reviewing applications for the new positions created by the grant.

Currently teaching at the school is Katelyn Mosley, who is aided by Lakesha Irby. Shae Stevenson also volunteers at the center to help in the classroom.

For the past two years, 4-year-old pre-k enrollment at Bright Beginnings has been at the maximum of 18 students with one teacher and one teacher’s aide. The recent grant award will allow for a second 4-year-old pre-k class, giving 18 more students in the Demopolis area an opportunity for a “bright beginning” in education. According to the Bentley, nothing could be more important for a child’s ultimate educational success.

“The most important part of a child’s education is a good, solid foundation, and our First Class voluntary pre-k program provides that,” Bentley said. “All children, regardless of where they live, deserve the opportunity to excel. A high-quality, voluntary pre-k program improves their chances of success in K-12 school. This is a wise investment that will benefit children and families throughout Alabama.”

Wilkins said she could not agree more.

“I am so excited that we’ve been given the opportunity to reach and teach more 4-year-olds in the Demopolis area, and to provide them with the skills necessary to be successful kindergarteners who love to learn,” she said. “I want parents to know that enrolling their 4-year-old in a voluntary pre-k program can be affordable. We want to enhance what parents are already doing at home to prepare their children for kindergarten, and this grant award allows us to do that to an even higher degree.”

Wilkins pointed out that she and the Bright Beginnings faculty and staff owe a debt of gratitude to those who provided letters of support for the grant application packet including Mayor Mike Grayson, State Rep. A. J. McCampbell and Judge Wade Drinkard, who chairs the Marengo County Children’s Policy Council.

The new school year begins on Aug. 19, and Bright Beginnings is currently accepting applications for enrollment to fill the remaining slots made available by the First Class Pre-K grant award. Students must be 4 years old by Sept. 1 in order to qualify. The 4-year-old pre-k school day runs from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Before and after school care is also available, as well as daycare for infants and toddlers. Bright Beginnings Learning Center is located at 1908 Mauvilla Drive in Demopolis, and the staff may be reached at 287-0550. More information about Bright Beginnings can also be found online at

Alabama’s First Class program is nationally-recognized for its quality. Alabama is currently one of only four states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks established by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The benchmarks include teacher training, staff-child ratios, support services and more. Bright Beginnings Learning Center is proud to be a First Class site.