Families in Jackson County now have the opportunity to become more bi-literate at the Aaron Jones Family Interactive Center.
The Pascagoula-Gautier School District received a $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood grant to develop a bilingual resource library in an effort to help children and parents in the community. According to State Farm, the program “helps worthwhile nonprofit organizations across the U.S., offering $25,000 grants for neighborhood projects involved in education, safety and community development.”
Kelli McCorkle, the director of the early beginnings program, said that while the Aaron Jones Family Interactive Center also holds the Excel by 5 library, this is an opportunity for families to receive more support with bilingual needs.
“One of our main goals is bi-literacy,” McCorkle said. “We want parents to get involved with reading and use this support before their children enter school.”
McCorkle said that her time as a past school administrator made her aware of the challenges to those students who don’t speak English. She explained that a long-term goal of the library is to support graduation down the road.
“The resource library will help children prepare for kindergarten,” McCorkle said. “When children are more prepared starting at the pre-kindergarten level, you see increased graduation rates, an increase of those who own homes, and more.”
While many of the materials available at the library are in Spanish, McCorkle said there is a variety of materials in many languages, such as Vietnamese or American Sign Language. In addition, there are many different types of activities, including a listening center that incorporates new technologies.
The hours for the library vary. On Monday and Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., the library is open where students and parents can interact or checkout books, with hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. While only those in Pascagoula and Gautier will be able to checkout materials, anyone is welcome to come into the center and interact.