Forbes Preschool’s first class graduates Polk High

Published 4:54 pm Monday, June 14, 2010

This years graduating class at Polk County High School includes the first students to enroll in the Forbes Preschool Education Center when it opened in 1997.

The program that began in 1995 when Mrs. Margaret L. Forbes purchased the Duke Power building in Tryon and gave it to the school system for use as a full-day preschool has grown from the first class of 38 students to a five- star program that currently serves 213 of the countys three and four-year-olds in 13 classrooms that are located at each of the systems elementary school sites.

Mrs. Forbes vision and understanding of the impact that early childhood education could have on our schools and community continues today, says Polk Superintendent of Schools Bill Miller. “The dream she began for us is now impacting a large majority of our families in each school and community. What we owe to her as a school system, we cannot begin to express.

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Currently, approximately 80 percent of all Polk County preschoolers attend the systems program, which is funded by tuition, N.C. More at Four and Head Start monies. Very few school systems offer a program such as this and it is considered a model throughout North Carolina.

Offering comprehensive preschool services in each community is vital to the success of children entering kindergarten ready to learn, says Kathy Harding, Polk County Schools Preschool Program Director. It was the vision and work of Mrs. Forbes in 1995 that created the focus for Polk County Schools to provide a high quality preschool for all children. This program has made a difference for children and families and we are so appreciative of Mrs. Forbes.

Forbes received the school systems Stewards of Education award in 2007 for her generosity and support of its students.

The Forbes Preschool Education Center began with the vision of Mrs. Forbes to provide Polk Countys four year-olds with an all-day preschool experience at little or no cost to parents, says Susan McHugh, chairman of the Forbes Foundation board and previous superintendent of Polk County Schools. The program was highly successful and served as the impetus for the school board to offer a comprehensive preschool program for children at every elementary school in each community.

In 1998 Mrs. Forbes also established the Stuart and Margaret L. Forbes Foundation, which supports both Polk County Schools’ preschool children as well as the system’s graduating seniors.

Since the beginning of the foundation 12 years ago, 30 annual scholarships have been given to graduating Polk County High School seniors. Each scholarship is now worth $3,000.00 per year, renewable for four years by maintaining a specific grade point average. Total Forbes Foundation grants supporting education exceed $300,000.