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Oklahoma First Lady Begins State Tour at Choctaw Nation


December 12, 2019

Christian Toews/Choctaw Nation

Oklahoma First Lady Sarah Stitt begins her first statewide tour Tuesday, Dec. 10 with a stop at the Choctaw Nation Child Development Center in Durant.

DURANT, Okla. – Oklahoma First Lady Sarah Stitt visited the Choctaw Nation Tuesday, Dec. 10, making it the first stop on her first statewide tour. The focus of her tour is to observe and share information on the care of Oklahoma's youth. Her visit began at the Choctaw Nation Child Development Center in Durant where a new $20 million childcare center was announced.

Amanda Johnson, director of Choctaw Nation Child Care and Head Start, led the first lady and her group through the facility. From Infant Care to the Before-and-After School youth sections, and the colorful playground to the high-tech classrooms, Stitt got a firsthand view of the program.

Johnson made the announcement to the first lady and to the public that the Choctaw Nation Tribal Council has recently approved a new childcare center that will serve an additional 272 children. "Ground will be broken on the $20 million center in January 2020," Johnson said. Construction will be on the Durant campus. Currently, the waiting list for admission to the existing Durant center is almost 500. The new center also means dozens of new fulltime jobs in the childcare field.

"I am thankful for the investment that the Choctaw Nation makes in our early childhood programs," Johnson said. "We serve 620 children at 21 locations within the 10.5 counties of the Choctaw Nation. Our staff members are highly trained educators, who are passionate about our most precious resource, our children. From birth to preschool, our classrooms follow a research-based curriculum that promotes independence, resilience, and language and literacy development."

Stacy Shepherd, executive officer of Choctaw Nation Member Services, which oversees tribal education, added about the program, "When I visit one of our Choctaw Nation Child Care facilities, I'm excited and want to be a kid again, back in school. Throughout history, the Choctaw Nation has placed a high value on education and understands the long-term impact of this early investment. Top priority is to provide a safe, learning environment with trained teachers to not only teach a curriculum for cognitive growth but also focus on building a creative, persevering, self-confident, self-controlled child ready for the school."


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