We believe in education for the whole person:  Mind, Body & Spirit!

Advocates: State needs more funding for early education.

For Mae Winbush, who’s given 62 years in service to Lafayette’s children, it’s noticeable when a student hasn’t had any kind of pre-kindergarten education, she said. “I’ve seen students in first grade that were struggling with concepts they should have learned before kindergarten,” she said as early education advocates, state senators and representatives mingled around her. Winbush started the Gethsemane LaPetite Early Childhood Development Center in Lafayette after she retired as a teacher. On Tuesday, those state legislators and employees of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children gathered at Winbush’s center to discuss the state of early childhood education. “We’ve done so much work, so much work to improve our quality of early education, but it’s all for naught if the kids who need it can’t access it, especially those who are at risk,” Melanie Bronfin said. “We are spending less than one half of 1 percent of our state general funds on early care education.” Bronfin, the executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, gave credit where credit was due, but also explained to state officials how the system needs to improve. In Louisiana, the state is reaching about 90 percent of 4-year-olds with “high-quality, full-day early education.” “It is stunning,” she said. “I don’t know of another state serving as many 4-year-olds.” For children younger than 4, however, the statistics are less flattering. “We have cut our childcare assistance program from serving 40,000 kids 10 years ago to under 20,000 kids today,” Bronfin said. “We know parents are working. Where are those kids? Sadly, probably not in a center like this. Probably in unlicensed unregulated care, during those critical times of brain development, and that’s how we end up with 40 percent of our kids behind in kindergarten.” When funding gets cut, costs are then pushed down to parents. Childcare costs, Bronfin said, have increased to an average cost of about $7,500 per child per year. “It’s very difficult to afford that. Meanwhile, statewide, less than 15 percent of our at-risk families can access any public funding to help them pay for this,” she said. Once childcare becomes too expensive and parents start missing work to fill the gaps, the costs associated with it are then reflected upon businesses and the economy, Bronfin said. “Over 40 percent of parents of children, birth through age 4, missed work in the last three months due to childcare issues,” according to a study by the institute. “One in 6 Louisiana workers with young children reported quitting a job, and one in 13 workers with young children were fired because of reoccurring childcare issues. The result is over $800 million cost to Louisiana employers each year and a $1.1 billion loss to the economy.” In the more practical sense, a lack of money means a lack of qualified teachers and technology for the LaPetite Early Childhood Development Center, Winbush said. “We’re licensed for 100 students, but we average between 82 and 89 each year to keep within the student-to-teacher ratio guidelines,” she said. On Tuesday, three-year-old students gathered at the front of their classroom and sat quietly with their legs folded beneath them. Balloons and construction paper projects hung from the ceiling. Little cubbies held backpacks, and the alphabet was posted around the classroom. A smart board, used for lessons that teachers control with computers, hung at the head of the room. “Funding is essential or we have to make cuts to the programs,” Winbush said. “At the end of the day, it’s very important to me that students, whether they come from privileged background or not, that they start at an even footing.” Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan reads a book to a class of three-year-olds at the Gethsemane LaPetite Early Childhood Development Center following a summit on early childhood education. 

Mission Statement:

Statement of Belief


 It is the philosophy of our school staff to help children develop to the fullest capacity through careful guided study.  We seek to help students to reach their fullest capabilities in all subjects.


 We work with each child accepting him/her as a unique individual that must be developed through prayerful guidance of the mind, body and spirit.


 This Christian school is an extension of the Christian home in training young people in a Christian environment for time and eternity.  The school staff works closely with parents to train the whole child.


 The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6 to train up a child in the way he should go.  Teaching is training.  Training for life must include training for eternity.


 We believe this training should begin in early childhood: therefore, we have provided a planned curriculum for the pre-school, kindergarten, and elementary School.


 It is important that it is realized that attendance at this school is a privilege and not a right.  The goal of this school is not to reform, but to train Christian youth of every ability in the highest principles of Christian Leadership, self- discipline, individual responsibility, personal integrity, and good citizenship.  This school stands without apology for the old-time Gospel and the highest standards of morality and Christian behavior.  

Gethsemane Christian Academy accepts applications for admission to any grade regardless of race, sex, creed or national origin. There is no discrimination in administering educational policies or in awarding scholarship and loan programs, or in the athletic and extra-curricular programs.

Subscribe To Our Website

  • Subscribing allows you to get site updates. Your email address will be kept private.