Nicholls Partners with Smart Start Ascension Early Childhood Learning Academy

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls is partnering with Ascension Parish Government to provide a team of specialists to establish the Smart Start Ascension Early Childhood Learning Academy , a Type III early learning center in Donaldsonville. Program development and a continued operational framework will be in collaboration with Ascension Parish Government and members of the Nicholls’ specialist team.

 Prior to development of the early learning center, families in the Donaldsonville community found it difficult to obtain quality childcare so crucial to child development. 

“Unfortunately, many families either do not have access to or cannot afford such environments for their children. This lack of access often leads to low academic performance within elementary schools, low retention rates in high schools and – in some instances – higher rates of incarceration as adults. The partnership between Ascension Parish Government and Nicholls State University works to change that dynamic,” said Nicholls Assistant Professor of Teacher Education and LCA Executive Director Dr. Mistie Perry Lasseigne.

The center’s framework will be centered on promoting children’s self-awareness, competence, self-worth and physical well-being, while also providing families support in assisting children to accomplish these goals outside of the classroom. The specialist team will work to develop and support strong relationships with enrolled children, children’s families and the local community while embracing diversity, inclusive practices and mutual respect.

“We are grateful, humbled and incredibly excited about becoming such a large part of a project that will shift the trajectory of future generations. Our hope is that this project will serve as the model for other communities across the country to recognize the importance and significance of Early Childhood Education” said Dr. Lasseigne who is a graduate of Nicholls’ Birth to Five/Early Interventionist Education (BFED) undergraduate program, the Nicholls’ Masters of Curriculum and Instruction Early Childhood program, and the LSU Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction Early Childhood program.

The Birth to Five/Early Interventionist Education (BFED) undergraduate program at Nicholls is the only program of its kind in the state and supports the initiatives of the NAEYC and CEC National Standards for young children by teaching practitioners key early learning concepts and fostering early learning skills in children from birth to 8 years old. To learn more about Nicholls College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the BFED program, visit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 13, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Jerad David, Director of Communications, 985.448.4303 or

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