A First Chapter: Meet Mikyla

We recently launched a new project called A First Chapter to share stories of promise, growth and inspiration through early education. (If you missed our first family, meet the Johnsons and learn more about the project here!)

We’re lucky to interact with the families, educators and communities who are working to support young children and plant the seeds of success every day. A First Chapter comes from our desire to celebrate and recognize these people. Because a child’s first chapter is our next chapter.

Now, we’d like to introduce you to the Coopers: Meet Crystal Cooper and her children, including Mikyla: a fiery 4-year-old who loves riding her scooter, drawing and Peppa Pig.

A First Chapter – Cooper Family | Jackson, MS

"My greatest hope for her is to keep her fire" – Crystal Cooper, mother of 4-year-old Mikyla. #afirstchapterFollow their education journey at A First Chapter: afirstchapter.org

Posted by Waterford Institute on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

“My greatest hope for Mikyla is for her to be the best that she can be. And for her to believe that she can be the best she can be. Test scores and reading levels in Mississippi are real low. And there is so much stereotyping here, not just in Jackson, but around the world. I’m hoping that she doesn’t let that affect her, and that she makes the best of it. There’s a little ball of fire inside her. I hope she keeps it lit,” Crystal tells us.

Mikyla was part of our first-ever Waterford UPSTART class in Mississippi. This year, 156 kids from Jackson, Fayette, and Yazoo City participated in the pilot program. Assessment scores from the start and end of the program show participants improved on all six reading measures tested, with many finishing the program already at a kindergarten beginning or kindergarten intermediate level.

“Reading is unlocking different adventures and avenues for her,” Cyrstal says. “When she learns a new word, she’s gonna say that word all day long. She’s gonna make you feel excited about whatever she’s reading just like if you were in the book yourself.”

Help Us Spread the Word

Follow along at afirstchapter.org or “like” Waterford on Facebook where we will share new stories each week.

If you enjoy the stories and, like us, consider early education to be of urgent importance, please consider sharing A First Chapter videos and images. Together, we can create awareness of how important it is to ensure every child has an equal shot at success from the very start.



Cut from black

Cut to Mikayla on a mini car

Text on screen: Mikyla

Crystal: Mikyla’s a ball of fire. She’s spontaneous, she loves to talk. She loves to draw, paint, anything with color, she loves it. I see her pulling out her fullest potentials. She brought pictures home from school saying that, “This me, my brother, my sister, we at the pool.” And I’m like, “OK, very imaginative.” The hardest part about raising a family is being a single mom, moving around a lot.

Nicholas (Mikyla’s brother): Since I’m being the bigger brother, I’m always gonna be there for my sisters when they need me. If they need me to do something I’m gonna be right there beside them to help them.

Cut to Mikyla and Nicholas reading

Mikyla Reading: Yellow duck, yellow duck, what do you see? I see a purple…

Nicholas: Cat.

Mikyla: I know what it is!

Crystal: She loves to try to read to us. When she learns a new word she gonna say that word all day long. And she gonna make you feel the excitement about the book or whatever she’s reading just like if you was in the book yourself.

Nicholas: And sometimes when she gets, when she reads. She goes in her room and she plays teacher, and she takes her little dolls and bears and set them out on the floor. And she reads to them, then she pretends like they talking back to her and all that.

Cut to Mikyla using UPSTART

UPSTART: Choose letters to make a word.

Mikyla: Just put ‘A’

Nicholas: And a ‘T’

Mikyla: They don’t make the same sound.

Cut to Crystal

Crystal: She’s very excited about starting school. I’m ready for her to start, and then I’m not. Cause she’s the last of the clan going out the door, and I don’t get to see her on a day-to-day basis anymore.

Cut to kids walking

Crystal: My greatest hope for her is to believe that she can be the best she can be. Because there is so much stereotyping here, just for kids period these days. And how much crime’s going on around the world—not just here in Jackson but the world. I’m hoping that she don’t let that affect her, and that she makes the best of it. My greatest hope for her is to keep her fire. I hope she keep believing and keeps going.

Cut to A first Chapter provided by Waterford.


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