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Parrett visits North Park for Strong Start initiative

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By Kelly Cantrall

Newly elected 10th District state Sen. Dennis Parrett received a preschool lesson Tuesday.

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Parrett visited North Park Elementary School to learn more about preschool education in Kentucky. Parrett’s visit is only one of the educational trips that Strong Start Kentucky is trying to arrange.

The Strong Start initiative is part of the Pritchard Committee for Academic Excellence and is a program designed to make quality preschool more accessible. Nannette Johnston, superintendent of Hardin County Schools, serves on the Strong Start committee.

Beth Brandenburg, principal of North Park Elementary Schools, Carlena Sheeran, director of Early Childhood Education, and Johnston showed Parrett several preschool classes to give him a sense of what is accomplished in the classrooms and how those accomplishments could be helpful to other students.

Preschool in public schools isn’t open to all students; students have to qualify based on a developmental delay or family income. Johnston and the Strong Start committee hope to see preschool become available to all students.

Johnston said she believes preschool can make a difference in all students’ lives. If the cause of a positive lifelong impact can be pinpointed, “this is it,” she said.

Johnston said legislators must see funding preschool for all students as an investment in the state.

Parrett seemed receptive to Johnston’s message.

“Education is certainly one of my passions,” he said. It’s one of the key factors to improving society, he said.

Parrett said he hoped to see more students in preschool once the funding situation in the state improved.

“There’s a lot of kids out there who ought to be here, too,” he said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or

kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.