Thanks to a grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Hiseville Elementary in Barren County will be able to help its students succeed before they even enter the workplace.
We really have a vision that in our community and across the state, all children will enter kindergarten ready to succeed," said Debbie Hills, United Way of Southern Kentucky Exec. Vice President.
Preparing kids for school before they ever enroll was the goal of the United Way in Northern Kentucky in 2010, when they launched the pilot program. Following its success, local United Way chapters across the state pushed for expansion.
Now, Toyota motor manufacturing Kentucky has decided to join in and fund ten programs throughout the state with 11,500 dollars each, creating the Toyota Bornlearning Academies.
"There are a lot of programs out there for children... for young children to get them ready for school. Programs we're familiar with... Head Start, First Steps... but this program focuses on what the parents can do at home with the children," said Helen Carroll, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Community Relations Manager.
Carroll says it was the program's emphasis on teaching parents to teach children that drew the attention of Toyota.
"It's a lot of common sense stuff. It's using everyday moments like a trip to the grocery store. You pick up an orange and say this is an orange and it's round. Simple stuff like that," said Helen Carroll, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Community Relations Manager.
The program will help parents educate their kids on different topics during the six month program that meets once a month.
United Way of Southern Kentucky encouraged area schools to apply for the grant, and they're honored that Hiseville was chosen as one of the ten. They aren't the only ones excited.
"Folks are talking about it at the local stores, at the Dollar Store, at the feed mill. It's just part of our community," said Jeff Ritchie Hiseville Elementary School Principal.
Ritchie says they have good reason to be talking.
"When they come in as kindergartners, they're a step ahead of the game, and we're going to benefit down the road as well as the families that are going to be part of this," said Ritchie.
It's these students' little brothers and sisters the program will help, but Ritchie says in the end, it will help everyone.
Toyota says it has committed to investing $500,000 over the next five years, and plans to expand to more schools.