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Hands-on approach leads to increased enrollment at Vicksburg Catholic School Early Learning Center



The Sisters of Mercy Early Learning Center opened in May 2021 (credit: Vicksburg Catholic School)
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Sisters of Mercy Early Learning Center Director Katie Emfinger knows every child by name. She’s there before the doors open at 7 a.m. and after they close at 6 p.m. She visits each classroom throughout the day and, while in her office, answers questions from prospective families while monitoring cameras throughout the building. Paying attention to detail, relationship building with families, and sharing the progress of students, she says, is the most meaningful part of her job.

“Getting to know the children, helping them learn, watching them grow, then sharing their progress with their families is the reason I do this,” Emfinger said. “To see the little ones learning to walk – to watch them go from crawling to walking while also growing their cognitive ability, it’s fun and is something I’m passionate about.”

Director Katie Emfinger is passionate about her work. (credit: Vicksburg Catholic School).

Emfinger attributes the success and demand of the ELC’s offerings to its structured approach to growing each child in mind, body, and spirit versus only providing childcare.

“What makes us unique is that we’re Christ-centered while also utilizing a learning curriculum from birth to three years old,” Emfinger said. “It’s called Beautiful Beginnings and focuses on seven core areas of development including communication, gross motor, fine motor, intellectual, discovery, socials, and selfhelp. We’re not just providing childcare but helping these children enjoy learning with consistent human interaction.”

“Every dollar spent at the ELC contributes to the growth and development of the students,” said VCS Development Director Anna Kate Doiron. “As it stands today, the ELC is the product of over four years of successful planning and implementation and serves as a model for our entire region. As a result, we’re seeing higher-than-expected enrollment after just four months of operation, and while enrollment is high the ELC is well within the state-required student to teacher ratio and has space to welcome additional students to our VCS family.”

The Sisters of Mercy Early Learning Center is the most-recent addition to Vicksburg Catholic School, an educational institution founded over 160 years ago. VCS is now the first Catholic school in Mississippi to offer educational opportunities from infancy to high school graduation. For more information, call (601) 638- 5810, email, or visit

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