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New early childhood education tool available in St. Petersburg

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Early childhood education has been at the center of much debate over how to improve educational outcomes for students. That conversation has become prevalent in St. Pete where five elementary schools are chronically failing.

Officials and elected leaders in the city have suggested finding money in the city’s budget to increase availability of pre-k programs above and beyond the VPK already available to 4-year-olds.

While that goal may be long-term and potentially costly, the city is launching another option. Miss Humblebee’s Academy is an online program for kids as young as 3 to prepare them for Kindergarten.

The program is now available at St. Petersburg libraries.

The program includes guided lessons and interactive activities designed to teach youngsters how to recognize letters by both sound and sight and to differentiate between upper and lower case letters. The program includes activities on rhyming, explanations on the parts of a book and reading comprehension, which are all integral components of entering kindergarten ready to learn.

Library members don’t have to own a computer to access the program. The activities can be used at a local library. They are also available for home use on a personal computer or a mobile device.

Seven community libraries have the program including the Main Library at 3745 Ninth Ave. N.

Subjects covered include math, science, social studies, social sciences, language and literacy, and art and music. The lessons use a step approach with a curriculum that gets more rigorous the further a student gets in the program.

The program does not require a child to already know how to read. It includes periodic evaluation of a student’s progress that send a parent or teacher progress reports.



Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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