[NEWS RELEASE] Early Learning Coalition’s Established Volunteer Program Makes Impact on Children’s Development

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ELC volunteers Kathy Stawawa and Teresa Widman reading the book “Ten Apples Up on Top” by Dr. Seuss with special guest The Cat in the Hat during a Dr. Seuss program at Kids First Learning Center in Middleburg.

ORANGE PARK,  Fla., May 21, 2018 – Impacting thousands of preschoolers in six area counties, the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida provides reading and literacy programs for area preschools through coordinated volunteer outreach.

Managed by the Coalition, volunteers are screened and trained before setting foot in the classroom. The Coalition provides weekly volunteer readers to groups of 3-5 year olds in daycares and preschools (reading for 30 minutes to an hour), as well as literacy outreach volunteers who hold monthly literacy-themed programs. Volunteers may participate in one or both programs.

Themed outreach programs are based on either popular children’s books such as “Pete the Cat” and “Clifford” or themes that follow the school’s curriculum such as the ocean, space, rhyming, colors or arts. Volunteers assist with storytelling and leading activities, often donning costumes or props to enhance the stories. Each child also receives a free book which is reflective of the theme.

The ELC has a well-stocked lending library with books and literacy materials for the volunteers to check out and use. Weekly readers are also able to create relationships with the children through their consistent appearances.

“Our volunteers are that extra-special person coming in to see them each week who exposes our preschoolers to new books and shares their love of reading,” said ELC’s Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson. “The school staff has told me the children look forward to greeting the readers and go right to them when they arrive.”

Early literacy is key to brain and developmental growth, according to Whitson.

“Studies show that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs,” said Whitson. “Reading to children early sets the groundwork for their future ability to read and learn. We are so grateful for our volunteers who make this impact for our children and future.”

The ELC of North Florida is seeking more volunteers to join this wonderful program. There will be a required orientation session on Wednesday, June 13th at 10:00 a.m. at the Early Learning Coalition office located at 3620 Peoria Road, Orange Park. To register or for more information to become a weekly volunteer or literacy outreach volunteer please contact Sandi Dunnavant with the ELC of North Florida at 904-375-1486 or sdunnavant@elcnorthflorida.org or Joan Whitson at 904-342-2267 ext. 202 or jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) serves the counties of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns assisting parents, caregivers and educators of children ages birth-pre-kindergarten. ELC manages and evaluates early child care and education programs through a quality school readiness delivery system.

 

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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!

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Celebrates Read Across America with Dr. Seuss

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – March 18, 2018 – In celebration of Read Across America Week, Literacy Month and Dr. Seuss’s birthday, the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) got into the spirit and put on six Dr. Seuss themed story time programs in local pre-schools.  The schools were chosen through a drawing at ELC’s Early Educators Conference held in January.

Winning schools include:

St. Johns County –  Palencia Montessori (St. Augustine), a Fun Place to Be (St. Augustine) and Kindercare; Putnam County – First Baptist Pre-school (Palatka); Clay County – OTB Kids (Fleming Island) and First Class Learning Center (Orange Park).  

WHY CELEBRATE DR. SEUSS?  According to Joan Whitson, ELC’s Early Literacy Outreach Manager, Dr. Seuss epitomizes a love of children and learning. She points out that his use of rhyme makes his books an effective tool for teaching young children the basic skills they need to be successful.

“When we celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading, we send a clear message to America’s children that reading is fun and important,” said Whitson.   

Each pre-school received a story time with special guest the Cat in the Hat, followed by an activity time featuring learning activities that feature Dr. Seuss books.  Every child received a free Dr. Seuss book and the school received a bag filled with an assorted set of Dr. Seuss books and activities.

“These programs would not be possible if it were not for the many dedicated ELC early literacy volunteers that commit their time and energy to this cause,” said Whitson.  

For more information about the ELC early literacy programs or to volunteer contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at:  jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or visit www.elcnorthflorida.org.

St. Johns County – Palencia: Palencia Montessori students, with the Cat in the Hat, holding up their FREE books at the Early Learning Coalition’s Story Time for Read Across America. Visit www.elcnorthflorida.org

Putnam County – First Baptist: Children from First Baptist Preschool and the Cat in the Hat at the Early Learning Coalition’s Story Time for Read Across America. Visit www.elcnorthflorida.org

Clay County – OTB Kids: Early Learning Coalition of North Florida volunteers reading “10 Apples Up On Top” with the Cat in the Hat at OTB Kids in Fleming Island at the Early Learning Coalition’s Story Time for Read Across America. Visit www.elcnorthflorida.org

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

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, www.elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267.

The ELC of North Florida Hosts Reading Pal Conference

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St. Johns County Volunteer Molly Grossholz at her Pete the Cat station at Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s Reading Pals Conference, September 27, 2017.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., September 29, 2017 – The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) hosted a conference for their Reading Pals at the Marywood Retreat and Conference Center in St. Johns County, Fla., September 27. Forty of ELC’s Reading Volunteers from Clay, Putnam and St. Johns County attended.

The Reading Pals conference had two keynote speakers, Michelle Kiley and Sandra Dunnavant. Kiley is a youth services librarian who has worked for the St. Johns County Public Library system for more than 12 years as a children’s librarian.  Dunnavant is a part-time employee for the ELC and was an educator in the Clay County school system for forty-eight years.  

Along with the keynote presentations, participants experienced different reading stations throughout the day – created by ELC staff and volunteers. Reading stations included demonstrations on how to use themes for story time to incorporating music when reading to children.

“I am humbled to be with this outreach effort that attracts volunteers with so much community commitment and incredible talent,” said ELC’s Early Literacy Outreach Manager Joan Whitson. “These volunteers are the reason we are able to deliver such important early learning experiences to our communities, and without them our program would not be possible.”

For more information about upcoming ELC’s early literacy events, please contact Joan Whitson at jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org.

Early Learning Coalition’s Established Volunteer Program Makes Impact on Children’s Development

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Volunteer Erica Bauserman enjoys reading and teaching the children about bees and insects at Brandts Child Care Center in St. Augustine, July 2017.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., July 13, 2017 – Impacting thousands of preschoolers in six area counties, the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida provides reading and literacy programs for area preschools through coordinated volunteer outreach.

Managed by the Coalition, volunteers are screened and trained before setting foot in the classroom. The Coalition provides weekly volunteer readers to groups of 3-5 year olds in daycares and preschools, reading for 30 minutes to an hour as well as literacy outreach volunteers who hold monthly literacy-themed programs. Volunteers may participate in one or both programs.

Themed monthly outreach programs are based on either popular children’s books such as “Pete the Cat” and “Clifford” or themes that follow the school’s curriculum such as the ocean, jungle, senses or arts. Volunteers assist with storytelling and leading activities, often donning costumes or props to enhance the stories. Each child also receives a free book which is reflective of the theme.

The ELC has a well-stocked lending library with books and literacy materials for the volunteers to check out and use. Weekly readers are also able to create relationships with the children through their consistent appearances.

“Our volunteers are that extra-special person coming in to see them each week who exposes our preschoolers to new books and shares their love of reading,” said ELC’s Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson. “The school staff has told me the children look forward to greeting the readers and go right to them when they arrive.”

Early literacy is key to brain and developmental growth, according to Whitson.

“Studies show that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs,” said Whitson.  “Reading to children early sets the groundwork for their future ability to read and learn. We are so grateful for our volunteers who make this impact for our children and future.”

The ELC of North Florida is  seeking more volunteers to join this wonderful program. There will be a required orientation session on Wednesday, September 6th from 10:00-12:30 at the St. Augustine Record building located at One News Place in St. Augustine. To register or for more information to become a weekly volunteer or literacy outreach volunteer please contact Joan Whitson with the ELC of North Florida at 904-342-2267 ext. 202 and at jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org

About the Early Learning Coalition: The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) serves the counties of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns assisting parents, caregivers and educators of children ages birth-pre-kindergarten. ELC manages and evaluates early child care and education programs through a quality school readiness delivery system.

ELC Presents New Preschool Arts Program

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Click here to download a printable PDF version.

Meet the Masters Preschool Arts Program

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Meet the Masters Preschool Arts Program leaders share with young students. Visit www.elcnorthflorida.org to learn more.

Early Learning Coalition Presents New Preschool Arts Program

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., May 25, 2017 – The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) has initiated a new “Meet the Masters” art program for four year olds.  The program provides engaging art curriculum for the children to learn about the lives of the master artists.

The program begins with the children dancing and waving scarves to the music of Beethoven and Offenbach. After, the character of George Seurat, the famous artist who used the technique of pointillism, visits the class and teaches the students about his life. Seurat then reads them the book titled “The Dot,” by Peter H. Reynolds.

After storytime the classroom is transformed into an art studio for painting and sculpting. Children get creative and make their own dot paintings imitating Seurat’s pointillism as well as sunflower paintings like Van Gough. Then they get to use clay, “Play-doh” to design sculptures like the famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin.  

 “The goal of this program is to expose children at an early age to the wonders and beauty of the arts,” said ELC’s Early Literacy Outreach Manager Joan Whitson. “The arts instill creativity, improve academic performance, and improve motor skills while boosting confidence and perseverance.”

What makes the “Meet the Masters” art program dynamic, according to Whitson, is that children are learning appreciation for art, practicing the skills and applying them all at once.

Each classroom receives a large resource bag filled with art supplies, music and activity pages to further encourage them to incorporate more of the arts in their everyday programs.

Meet the Masters Preschool Arts Program leaders share with young students. Visit www.elcnorthflorida.org to learn more.

 

About the Early Learning Coalition: The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) serves the counties of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns assisting parents, caregivers and educators of children ages birth-pre-kindergarten. ELC manages and evaluates early child care and education programs through a quality school readiness delivery system.

 

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida###

Governor Scott Proclaims May 12 Provider Appreciation Day

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Read the entire proclamation below.

Download (PDF, 37KB)

About the Early Learning Coalition: The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) serves the counties of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns assisting parents, caregivers and educators of children ages birth-pre-kindergarten. ELC manages and evaluates early child care and education programs through a quality school readiness delivery system.

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida