NEWS RELEASE: Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Awards 2021 Teachers of the Year

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

 

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida surprises Amy Finkley, 2021 Infant/Toddler Teacher of the Year, and Marisol Buitrago, 2021 Preschool Teacher of the Year, with prizes on January 6, 2022. 

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Awards 2021 Teachers of the Year

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla., January 6, 2022 – The Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of North Florida is pleased to announce its 2021 Preschool and Infant/Toddler Teachers of the Year. On January 6th, 2022, the ELC of North Florida surprised its 2021 preschool and infant/toddler teachers of the year with a prize patrol. The teachers were gifted with balloons, flowers, candy and a visit by special guest Pete the Cat.

ELC’s 2021 Infant/Toddler Teacher of the Year is Amy Finkley. Amy is an infant and toddler teacher at Deerwood Academy in St. Johns, Florida. She has been a teacher there for 10 years and has been an infant/toddler teacher for almost 30 years. Amy was nominated by Lucinda Chapin and Sheri Jenkins, the Chief Operating Officers for Deerwood Academy. Amy also recently received their in-house Teacher of the Year award in honor of her continued dedication to the children in her care. 

The Preschool Teacher of the Year winner is Marisol Buitrago. Marisol is a teacher at Green Cove Springs Head Start Center in Green Cove Springs, Florida. Marisol has been teaching preschool for 25 years. She is also the center manager for the Green Cove Springs Head Start. Since the beginning of the year, she has worked as the lead teacher for the VPK Head Start classroom due to the center being short staffed because of COVID-19. 

Both of these teachers exemplify the qualities and characteristics necessary to nurture the lives of young children and have gone above and beyond in their work according to their nominees.

They will be honored in person at the ELC of North Florida Early Educators Conference on Saturday, January 29th at the Thrasher Horne Conference Center in Orange Park, Florida. The teachers will  receive a $500 cash prize thanks to Kaplan Early Learning Co. and the Clay Electric Foundation. 

This quote from John Quincy Adams could define these two winners, according to Joan Whitson, ELC of North Florida’s Outreach Manager.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you’re a leader.”

“These two teachers are clearly leaders and are so deserving of this award and recognition,” said Whitson. 

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 to assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

 

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Additional Photos of the 2021 Teacher of the Year Award Winners:

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Launches Five Senses Program for Children in St. Johns County

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

 

Students from Turning Point Christian Academy in St. Augustine show off their copies of the book “My Five Senses” by Aliki Brandenberg during a program put on by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida in December 2021.

Link to Photo: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/IMG_4195.jpg

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Launches Five Senses Program for Children in St. Johns County

JOHNS COUNTY, Fla., December 8, 2021 – During the month of December, the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of North Florida’s team launched a new Five Senses Program throughout the St. Johns County area which introduces children to touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. This themed early literacy program is put on by the ELC of North Florida’s outreach team staff and volunteers in local preschools.

The Five Senses Program consists of a highly interactive story time filled with music, followed by a period of hands-on learning activities. The children get to learn about animals that have super senses, such as bats. They also learn about sounds and vibrations by making sounds with their bodies and musical instruments. The kids test their seeing skills by looking at pictures of items up close and trying to guess what they are. They challenge their sense of smell by trying to guess smells put in mystery jars. At the end of the program, the children make their own touch book filled with differently textured items. 

All participating children receive a free copy of the book “My Five Senses” by Aliki Brandenberg and each classroom teacher receives a large bag of teaching materials relating to the five senses theme. The ELC of North Florida regularly puts on themed literacy programs like this throughout the year with the goal of sharing quality programming and materials with local preschools. 

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 to assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

 

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Other Photos:

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Early Learning Parents’ Pages for Dec 2021

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Check out the following resources for parents from the Office of Early Learning for the month of December!

Click to Access Early Learning Parents’ Pages for Dec 2021

 

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 we assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

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

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Organizes Series of Mother Goose Programs in Putnam County

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

 

Students from Melon Elementary School in Palatka enjoy the Mother Goose program put on by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida in November 2021. 

Link to photo: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/IMG_5825-scaled.jpg

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Organizes Series of Mother Goose Programs in Putnam County

During the month of November, the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida put on seven Mother Goose programs at Melon Elementary school in Palatka and three at Crescent City Elementary in their VPK classrooms. The Mother Goose program focuses on teaching children  nursery rhymes and the importance of rhyming.  

Each child received a free Mother Goose nursery rhyme book and each teacher received a bag of resources relating to rhyming for their classrooms. The kids also participated in acting out nursery rhymes and had fun tapping out the rhythms of the story Miss Mary Mack using rhythm sticks. 

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 to assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

 

Other Photos:

 

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Preschool Teacher of the Year Nominations Now Open

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If you are interested in nominating a preschool teacher of the year in our counties, please use the following form:

Teacher of the Year Nomination Form

Please note: Nominations can only come from child care directors, owners, principals and fellow teachers only in our six county area only and not parents or community members unless they are in the above categories stated.

 

 

Sponsorship by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Participates in Read for Record Event to Provide Kids with Books

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

 

A student shows off a picture of the dragon from the book “Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon” by Kat Zhang during the 2021 Read for the Record event.

Link to Photo: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/O2B-Kids-North-in-St.-augustine-scaled.jpg

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Participates in Read for Record Event to Provide Kids with Books

Read for the Record, presented in partnership with the Pearson Foundation, is the annual event when millions of individuals come together to celebrate literacy by breaking the world record of reading the same book on the same day. On October 28th, 6,235 adults and children across the United States read the official campaign book, “Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon” by Kat Zhang. In this sweet and brightly illustrated picture book, Amy Wu must craft a dragon unlike any other to share with her class at school in this unforgettable follow-up to “Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao”.

Ninety-two childcare providers and schools participated, including the three school districts Putnam, Clay, and St. Johns County in Florida. The ELC of North Florida provided every child care provider in Clay, Nassau, Baker, Bradford, Putnam and St. Johns with a FREE copy of “Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon”, along with a packet of activities to do along with the book. The packet included a template that could be used to copy Read for the Record participation certificates to give each child.

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 to assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

 

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Hosts Farm Field Trip for Kids at the Amazing Grace Crop Maze

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Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org  

Phone: 904-342-2267

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Image/Caption:

Kids from 23 schools around Jacksonville enjoy sitting and playing in a corn crib at the Amazing Grace Crop Maze in Green Cove Springs in partnership with the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida in October 2021. 

Link to photo: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/248946253_10160364703933690_5881205221539070137_n.jpg 

(More photos can be found below the release.)

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida Hosts Farm Field Trip for Kids at the Amazing Grace Crop Maze

The Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of North Florida hosted two ELC Days at the Amazing Grace Crop Maze in Green Cove Springs on October 19 and 21, 2021. Twenty-three schools came out for this educational and fun farm field trip.  

The kids got up close with farm animals, explored a crop maze, jumped on a huge trampoline, played in a corn crib and much more. ELC staff and volunteers were also on hand helping the kids with a fun fall craft.  

Every child received a free farm book and each classroom received a bag-full of fall books for their classroom.

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 to assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

 

More photos can be found here for use:

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Sponsored by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

Sign up today to receive your FREE Read for the Record books! October 7th Deadline.

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Sign up today to receive your FREE Read for the Record Books! The deadline is October 7th.

Read for the Record 2021

Read for the Record, presented in partnership with the Pearson Foundation, is the annual event when millions of individuals come together to celebrate literacy by breaking the world record of reading the same book on the same day. On October 28th, adults and children across the United Sates will read the official campaign book, “Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon” by Kat Zhang.  In this sweet and brightly illustrated picture book, Amy Wu must craft a dragon unlike any other to share with her class at school in this unforgettable follow-up to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao.

Amy loves craft time at school. But when her teacher asks everyone to make their own dragon, Amy feels stuck. Her first dragon has a long, wingless body, stag-like horns, and eagle claws, but her friends don’t think it’s a real dragon. Then she makes dragons like theirs, but none of them feels quite right…None of them feels like hers.

After school, a story from Grandma sparks new inspiration, and Amy rounds up her family to help her. Together, can they make Amy’s perfect dragon?

The ELC of North Florida is providing every child care provider in Clay, Nassau, Baker, Bradford, Putnam and St. Johns with a FREE copy of “Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon” along with a packet of activities to do along with the book. (There is a 4 book limit per school or 2 book limit for family child care homes). In the packet will be a template that you can use to copy Read for the Record participation certificates to give each child .

To get your books and packet you must RSVP by phone or email by Thursday, October 7th to Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at 904- 342-2267 Ext. 202 or jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org.  A member of ECS or ELC staff will personally bring it to you or it will be mailed. In your email or phone message include your center/school name, contact person, address, phone, email, number of books and the number of children you will be reading to. Please send photos of your reading event to jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org so they can be posted on the ELC Facebook page for everyone to enjoy seeing what you did with the children. The activities and reading guide can also be downloaded by visiting: https://www.jstart.org/read-for-the-record/

Volunteer Training Sessions Offered in August

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Early Learning Coalition volunteers Jane Hafner and Carol White read the book “Mr. Seahorse” by Eric Carle to children at Children’s World in Palatka, Fla., Wednesday November 18, 2020.

VOLUNTEER FLYER: https://elcnorthflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/ELC-Volunteer-Recruitment-Flyer_July-2021_FINAL-PDF.pdf

Early Learning Coalition Needs Volunteer Readers in Six North Florida Counties

Training Sessions Offered in August

ORANGE PARK, Fla., August 9, 2021-  The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) is seeking new volunteers to read to children in local preschools and help them put on themed literacy programs. 

Reading volunteers read once a week or bi-weekly. Literacy program volunteers volunteer as needed, putting on themed programs in schools such as space, ocean, dinosaurs and more. Volunteers are part of a team that puts on the programs. 

Upcoming Training & Information Sessions: 

Thursday, August 19, 2021, 1 p.m.

ELC of North Florida Clay County Office

3620 Peoria Road, Orange Park, FL

Contact: Lacy Doss at ldoss@elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267 ext 202

Tuesday, August 31, 2021, 1 p.m. 

ELC of North Florida St. Johns County Office

2450 Old Moultrie Road, Suite 103, St. Augustine, FL 

Contact: Joan Whitson jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267 ext 202

Thursday, September 2, 2021, 10:30 a.m. 

ELC of North Florida St. Johns County Office

3841 Reid St., Palatka, FL

Contact: Joan Whitson jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267 ext 202

 

“Reading to young children sets the groundwork for a child’s future ability to read and learn,” said ELC Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson. 

Volunteer Reading Pals are matched up with local preschool centers where they read once a week or bi-weekly to groups of children. The ELC has a specific need currently for more volunteers in Clay County.

Reading Pals volunteers will 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.  

“It makes my day when I walk into the classroom and the children cheer ‘It’s the book lady,’” volunteer Reading Pal, Ellen Prest said.

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. Instilling an early love for reading is crucial to children’s future success in school. 

The ELC has a well-stocked lending library with books and literacy materials for the volunteers to check out and use.  Readers are also able to create relationships with the children through their consistent appearances. Volunteers can read solo or they can share their assignment with a partner. The ELC has several husband and wife teams as well. Civic organizations have also adopted a classroom and members take turns reading. 

 For more information about becoming a reading volunteer contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at 904-342-2267 x 202 or email jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org

 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 www.elcnorthflorida.org.

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Sponsored by the State of Florida, Division of Early Learning. 

Parents Looking for Childcare Find Help with the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida [NEWS RELEASE]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Children from God’s Little Creations in Palatka on April 22, 2021 creating fans before they learn the “fan dance”.

Children from God’s Little Creations in Palatka, Fla. is one of many child care centers that offer services for children in North Florida. The Early Learning Coalition can offer assistance in finding and paying for child care. Please visit www.ecs4kids.org/programs/school-readiness/ to apply. 

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Parents Looking for Childcare Find Help with the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., August 10, 2021 – At the beginning of another school year, Florida is being impacted again by the new variant of the Covid pandemic, leaving some parents of young children facing similar child care situations as in 2020. With workplaces adjusting to new protocols, some parents of young children are caught in a cycle of not being able to work because childcare is not available or is too expensive. There is help available for families.

The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) helps parents find and afford childcare to help them return to work. Families who are in need of childcare are encouraged to contact the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida for both financial help and assistance in locating childcare. The ELC partners with Episcopal Children’s Services (ECS) to coordinate childcare services. For more information, contact ECS at 904-726-1500, toll free 1-800-238-3463 or visit 

www.ecs4kids.org/programs/school-readiness/.

The average cost for childcare in Florida is $8,400 a year. For parents hovering around the poverty level, this means that childcare is one of the factors preventing families from rising above the poverty level. Additionally, finding childcare can be very difficult. Episcopal Children’s Services Chief of Programs Teresa Matheny explained how the ELC funding program works. 

“The ELC offers financial assistance to families making up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level,” said Matheny. “Once enrolled, the family can continue to receive services until they earn up to 85 percent of the Florida Median Income. In practical numbers, this means a family of three earning up to $32,580 a year is eligible for funding and can remain in the program until their income exceeds $53,601.” 

In addition to helping parents pay for childcare, ECS will help parents locate child care in their area. Currently, ECS is able to get most waitlisted children into childcare within two weeks. 

ELC provides child care assistance to families who meet certain income requirements and who are working or going back to school. This school readiness program is designed to increase a child’s chance of achieving future educational success. ELC also administers and manages Florida’s FREE VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds). For more information about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and its other programs and services, please visit, www.elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267.

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Sponsored by the State of Florida, Office of Early Learning.