Barksdale grants help build opportunities

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Natchez students will reap the benefits of a Mississippi couple’s generosity. McLaurin Elementary and West Primary schools are joining the ranks of dozens of schools statewide to receive funding through the Barksdale Reading Institute.

The two schools join two other Natchez-Adams School District campuses – Morgantown Elementary and Frazier Primary – in the Barksdale program.

The literacy program- endowed by James and Sally Barksdale with a $100 million gift – provides grants and funding to school districts throughout the state of Mississippi. It’s goal is a simple one: to increase literacy in our state.

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The Barksdales’ vision and generosity are important to Mississippi&160;- a state with vast resources and underdeveloped potential among its workforce. Yet, the message their Institute sends is even more important.

Barksdale, whose Netscape Communications has risen on the wave of modern technology, chose to focus his gift on a simple skill – reading – that is the building block to any success in life. Master that skill, and the opportunities in life are limitless. Fail, and your limits are obvious.

The Natchez program’s target is the youngest minds – prekindergarten through third grade – and the three-year program should boost teachers’ abilities by helping them learn to better assess students’ reading skills. Ultimately, administrators believe the focus will translate into higher scores on standardized testing and, most important, better reading comprehension skills among the students.

We hope they are successful. More important, we hope that some of those young minds are opened to the opportunities ahead, thanks to the Barksdale grants.