Archive for events – Page 2

[NEWS RELEASE] Simultaneous Reading Event Held for More Than 6500 Children in Local Counties

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Children from Andromeda Preschool in Orange Park standing proudly in front of the mural they painted to represent the book “Maybe Something Beautiful” for Read for the Record Day, Thursday, October 25, 2018.

Children from Grace Learning Center in St. Augustine proudly showing off their beautiful artwork to represent the book “Maybe Something Beautiful” by Isabel Campoy for Read for the Record Day Thursday, October 25, 2018.

Children from the Pre-K class at Mosely Elementary School in Palatka having fun for Read for the Record Day Thursday, October 25, 2018.











Simultaneous Reading Event Held for More Than 6500 Children in Local Counties

AUGUSTINE, Fla., November 9, 2018 – Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) joined Jumpstart, the Pearson Foundation and readers across the country on Thursday, October 25 to celebrate Read for the Record, America’s largest shared reading experience.

Locally, ELC provided a free copy of the the official campaign book “Maybe Something Beautiful” by Isabel Campoy to all their child care providers in Clay, Nassau, Bradford Baker, Putnam and St. Johns counties. The book was read at schools, libraries and countless special events from coast to coast, with many reading the free digital version available at Ninety-four providers participated for a total of 6,541 children participating in all local counties.

Launched in 2006, the campaign brings together millions of people to celebrate literacy by breaking the world record for reading the same book on the same day. Last year, Jumpstart broke the world record by reading to 2.5 million children around the world.

“Maybe Something Beautiful” is based on a true story of one little girl in L.A. who made a difference by bringing color to her once drab neighborhood.

“The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida is delighted to be a reading partner for this year’s Read for the Record Day,” said Joan Whitson, ELC’s Early Literacy Outreach Manager. “We support Jumpstart’s mission to help all children in America enter school prepared to succeed.”

The Early Learning Coalition is the leading voice in six counties for child care. ELC works with many other local agencies to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. Their mission is achieved by leading projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and how assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at


Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

Early Educators Conference 2019 – Save the Date!

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Saturday, January 26th, 2018 –  9:00 a.m.  – 3:15 p.m.

Thrasher Horne Center in Orange Park, FL

Thrasher-Horne Center
283 College Drive
Orange Park, FL 32065

Conference Speaker is Richard Cohen. Find out more about him by visiting:

Registration will begin December 12th, 2018

CEU’s will be provided.

Contact Joan Whitson at for more information.

Sponsorship by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and the state of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

Toddler Fest is Here!

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Join us June 2, 2018 at the Palatka Library for this free event with more than 20 organizations, including the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida. Children can participate in crafts and fun activities, including visits from fun characters. Free books will be given to preschoolers and more!


Meet the Masters Program Featured

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Please enjoy this edition of St. Johns County’s Superintendent Spotlight featuring our Meet the Masters Program.

Superintendent Spotlight – February 2018


ELC of North Florida Announce 2017 Preschool Teacher of the Year

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ELC of North Florida Announce 2017 Preschool Teacher of the Year

2017 Preschool Teacher of the Year winner Margie Tedder pictured with special guest Marshall from Paw Patrol; Toni Mitchell, Village Academy Director; Dr. Teri DeLucca, Vice President of Operations of Village Academy and Joan Whitson, Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Outreach Manager, during prize patrol visit, December 20, 2017.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., January 5, 2018 – Whether exceptional teachers are born or made is not the question. What matters is that by the time they make it into the classroom, they are filled with the necessary passion, drive, education and genuine love of teaching children that students need to succeed.

This critical need for exceptional teachers is why the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) is proud to present its winner of the third annual Preschool Teacher of the Year Award. The six-countywide preschool teacher recognition is to acknowledge the creativity and hard work of those who teach children at the most fundamental time in their lives.

“These are the kind of teachers that children will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Dawn Bell, ELC CEO. Bell is the leader of this 19-year-old nonprofit organization and this ELC works with their partner, Episcopal Children’s Services to assure our providers have coaches, funds and often, volunteers for their learning environments.

This year’s Preschool Teachers of the Year is Margie Tedder, a VPK teacher at Village Academy in St. Augustine.

Tedder was honored by a surprise prize patrol on December 20, 2017, with balloons and flowers. She will be recognized at the Early Educators Conference on January 27, 2018 at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park. Tedder will be awarded a $500 cash prize from Kaplan Early Learning, Inc., the 2017 Teacher of the Year Sponsor.

Tedder began teaching 33 years ago. Her involvement at Village Academy includes teaching, directing the summer camp program and serving as assistant director of the school. Her passion lies in teaching and in her strong love for her students, according to Tedder.

“Children who have had Tedder as a teacher are well-prepared for kindergarten and leave with the foundational school readiness skills that are necessary for success in kindergarten,” said Bell. “Many of her former students, now grown, all remember Ms. Margie.”

“Teaching is a special calling, and ELC is excited to be able to recognize preschool teachers who represent the best in the six counties we serve,” Bell continues. “There’s no better job than guiding children down a path of success. Great teachers like these have an incredible impact on our future.”

For more information about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and its programs and services, please visit, or call 904-342-2267.

Worms! We dig this activity.

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We dig this activity! Made by volunteer Erika Bauserman who is a reading pal at Brandts Child care in St. Augustine. to view and to subscribe to our channel: Learn more about how you can volunteer!

The Cat in the Hat Visits Sugar N Spice Daycare Center

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Clay County’s own Sugar N Spice daycare center enjoyed a special story-time from the Cat in the Hat and volunteer Reading Pals on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Video was taken of the special day and can be found below or by clicking the link here to view and to subscribe to our channel:

[PRESS RELEASE] ELC Hosts Week of Early Literacy Featuring Dr. Seuss

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ELC volunteers Ginny Dozier and Erika Bauserman with special guest the Cat in the Hat reading the book “Ten Apples Up on Top” by Dr. Seuss to children at Brighton Day Academy in St. Augustine

ELC volunteers Ginny Dozier and Erika Bauserman with special guest the Cat in the Hat reading the book “Ten Apples Up on Top” by Dr. Seuss to children at Brighton Day Academy in St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., March 13, 2017 – Every year, the Early Learning coalition of North Florida (ELC) celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a weeklong event to help promote early literacy.
This year, between February 27 and March 3, ELC hosted seven Dr. Seuss-themed literacy programs in local childcare centers.

The program consisted of a story time with special guest the “Cat in the Hat,” followed by other Dr. Seuss related activities and every child in attendance received a free Dr. Seuss book. Every daycare center also received a bag of assorted Dr. Seuss books and activities for their classroom.

The programs, conducted by ELC staff and volunteers, were planned at ELC’s Early Educators Conference in January, in which the centers were chose by a random drawing.

“Celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday by providing these programs is always a highlight for me,” said Joan Whitson, ELC’s Early Literacy Outreach Manager. “His books are timeless and it is fun to see the young generation as excited about his books as the older generation.”

The seven aforementioned centers included: Sugar N Spice and First Kids Learning Center in Clay County; Children’s Academy of Interlachen and Stay N Play in Putnam County; and Bartram Academy, Brighton Day Academy and Castlebrook Learning Center in St. Johns County.

To become a volunteer Reading Pal, or learn about upcoming early literacy events, call Joan Whitson at 904-342-2267 or email at


Dates for ELC Days at Sykes Farms and Amazing Grace Crop Maze (October 2016)

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ELC early literacy events for October 2016 are described below!

At both events, all children in attendance will receive a FREE “Spookley the Square Pumpkin” book as a gift and each classroom will receive a bag of assorted Spookley and other fall-related books. ELC staff and volunteers will be on-hand to provide an extra fun craft activity for the kids. 

Sykes Farms Early Literacy Event

ELC is sponsoring TWO fall field trips at Sykes Farms in Elkton, Florida- October 3 and 4, 2016 between 9a.m. and Noon.

Admission is only $5.00 for all children and chaperones (free admission for teachers).


The activities include: a trip through the Spookley the Square Pumpkin kiddie maze, hayride through pumpkin patch and sunflower field, visit with Uncle Buck’s farm animals, jump on the “corn popper”, the huge jumping pillow, playground featuring tube slide, corn box, tractor tires, spider web and more.

For booking information, call 904-692-1084 or go to and complete the field trip request form. Don’t forget to mention ELC when booking!

ELC Days at Amazing Grace Crop Maze in Green Cove Springs, Fla. (Lake Asbury area)


ELC is hosting another early literacy event at Amazing Grace Crop Maze on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m.

The cost is $8.00 for all children and chaperones (teachers are free)

The day includes: a mini pumpkin for each child, a hayride which includes visiting farm animals, Spookley the Square Pumpkin story time, crop maze science adventure, amazing agriculture lesion which includes how food gets from the farm to your fridge, jump on the new attraction “The Jump Pad” and playground featuring rat rollers, mini-hay bale maze, duck races and corn hole games.

For booking information, email info@agcropmaze.comInclude school name, contact email and phone number, approximate number of children and chaperones. Please mention the ELC when booking. Their office will contact you to confirm.


Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[PRESS RELEASE] Volunteer “Reading Pals” Program Brings Lasting Benefits to Local Children

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Volunteer “Reading Pals” Program Brings Lasting Benefits to Local Children

The advantages to reading to children from ages birth through five years is substantial. This is why the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) continues to expand its Reading Pals program in all six counties it serves (Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns). Reading Pals are trained by ELC and then connected with local preschool child care centers and VPK classrooms to simply read on a weekly basis to small groups of children.

Of the advantages of reading to this formative age group, one major benefit of reading to children is building vocabulary. Studies show that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime of learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs. Instilling an early love for reading is crucial to children’s future success in school.

Children also learn how to better communicate with others through reading.  The interaction between characters in the book teaches valuable lessons of which the children can relate. Discussions afterward between children and their Reading Pal also builds their communication skills and memory retention.

Finally, it provides preschoolers with a longer attention span. It fosters an environment where the children are sitting still and listening for a period of time and then asking related questions. As a result, children are better prepared for their elementary school years, which will carry on into adulthood.

For the safety of the children, all Reading Pal applicants will sign an affidavit of good moral character and will also go through a background screening. Once the volunteers have successfully completed the requirements, ELC assists the volunteers through a classroom training to ensure future success with the children.

Not only do children benefit through the Reading Pals program, but so do the volunteers in many ways.

Through the training, Reading Pals learn the following skills: how to choose age-appropriate books; child development, including the attention span of preschoolers; presenting books to preschoolers and promoting early literacy through phonetically reading.

Volunteers become role models who directly impact the children through the program. Children are constantly monitoring the actions of adults, so volunteers will be able to see this first-hand when children begin to read from left-to-right and turn pages of books just like their Reading Pal.

Reading Pals who volunteer their time may ultimately feel they have more time of their own as well. Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner recently reported to the Harvard Business Review that her research showed those who volunteer their time feel they actually have more of it; similar to those who donate their wealth feel to have more wealth of their own.

Finally, as Reading Pals, volunteers have the opportunity to make their time near and dear to their own hearts and have fun.

For example, Clay county Reading Pal Ellen Prest has been learning how to play the cello. Prest is a seasoned Reading Pal and knew this elegant instrument would win over the hearts of the children so she brought it in to perform for them. Prest also gave every child a turn to play the instrument.

“It’s so much fun to walk into the classroom and hear the children cheer, ‘It’s the book lady!’ on a weekly basis,” Ellen Prest said.

If desired, ELC also encourages volunteers to dress up as characters from the specific book they are reading as well as use props and other creative ways to enhance the story.

For example, volunteers quite often share personal photos with the children of their pets or of a recent vacation.  These teachable moments enlarge the scope of a child’s world, bringing in new and interesting experiences they may not have had yet in their young lives.

“We encourage Reading Pals to add their own personal experiences,” ELC’s Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson said.  “Just last week, Crescent City volunteers, Gerry and Kathy Miller read a book about worms and brought in fake worms, and real worms for the daring, so the children could get a visual aid.”

Teachers are supportive of Reading Pals in their classrooms because it increases the children’s love for books.

“I so appreciate your weekly reading pal volunteer,” said Director of Elkton Academy Erin Kochanski.  “She lights up the room when she arrives and the kids so look forward to her coming each week. Every day they ask, is this the day Miss Julia will be coming?  I have really seen the kids love for books increase since Miss Julia has been coming.”

Applications for Reading Pals can be found under the “Volunteer” tab of ELC’s website: Contact Joan Whitson for more information at or 904-342-2267. ELC coordinates services in North Florida for children birth to five years of age. Visit to learn more.


Early Learning Coalition of North Florida