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.

 

 

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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 Implements Innovative Reading Program

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., April 27, 2017 – The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) recently developed a successful reading program that uses different methods for literacy retention.

The Mother Goose program centers around teaching through nursery rhymes and was developed through the collaboration of the ELC staff and Literacy Outreach Assistant Sandi Dunnavant.

During her career as a media specialist, Dunnavant began teaching children to learn rhyming skills, which in turn helped children learn to read more quickly and the response was always positive and fun for the children.

“Many nursery rhymes use numbers, counting and other techniques which help children’s cognitive development,” said Dunnavant. “The use of patterns and sequence help children learn easy recall and memorization.”

The new program was implemented by Dunnavant and ELC Reading Pal volunteers in local preschools and consisted of a Mother Goose theme. Different stories were performed which centered around music and rhythm sticks. All children in attendance also received a free book bag filled with Mother Goose books. The teachers all received a gift packet filled with books and resources to further instruct the children with nursery rhymes.

Due to the program’s success, ELC plans to continue the program and are looking for donations so more local daycare centers can enjoy the new program.

To learn more about the program or donate, please contact Joan Whitson atjwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267.

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.

Spreading the Gift of Reading

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By Dianne Battle, St. Johns CARES

In his book, “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut,” Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat character says to a young reader, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

It has been sixty years since Dr. Seuss penned his first Cat in the Hat book. On the 20th observance of Seuss-inspired Read Across America Day, St. Johns CARES was pleased to work with Primrose Schools of Julington Creek and St. Johns Forest to collect hundreds of books for the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) North Florida’s School Readiness Program.

ELC currently serves 6,100 at-risk children from birth to pre-kindergarten in St. Johns and five other counties. Our local Primrose schools play a significant role in donating the thousand books ELC hopes to receive as part of this year’s Read Across America Day book collection. Children who are read to at an early age show improved school readiness scores and vocabulary.

Used books appropriate for 3-4 year olds are distributed to selected pre-schools. New books are included in take-home reading packs so that children can experience being read to by parents and caregivers. Early Learning Coordinator, Joan Whitson, commented that despite serving over 6,000 children ELC always has a waiting list. Volunteers trained as Reading Pals or for Literacy Outreach, and donations are crucial. See ELC’s website, www.elcnorthflorida.org.

Donated books that are suitable for older children will be held by St. Johns CARES for summer activity packs the public school system distributes at the end of the school year to over 600 homeless students in its ASSIST (Aid & Support for Students in Sudden Transition) program. St. Johns CARES is now fundraising to provide middle school students with scholarships to attend Gamble Rogers Marine Science Camp. See the Chip in For Youth opportunity at www.stjohnscares.org.


On March 2, Primrose demonstrated its commitment to improve academic outcomes for disadvantaged children. The jeep ELC’s Kim Brumfield drove was loaded to capacity. Youngsters helped by these donations may be accepted into college some day; this month St. Johns CARES is filling suitcases with dorm necessities for college-bound ASSIST students. See our website, www.stjohnscares.org for information on Suitcases for Seniors and Chip in for Youth, or come to a meeting, 7PM third Tuesdays at Bartram Academy. St. Johns CARES is happy to help ELC North Florida keep the Cat in the Hat’s promise, “Oh, the places you’ll go.”

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: https://youtu.be/8yQUZi_VjY4 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: https://youtu.be/8yQUZi_VjY4

[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 jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org.

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ELC Names Preschool Teacher of the Year 2016

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida's 2016 Preschool Teacher of the Year Marie Klingner, receives her award and gift basket.

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s 2016 Preschool Teacher of the Year Marie Klingner, receives her award and gift basket.

 

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., February 3, 2017 – Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) has selected 2016’s “Preschool Teacher of the Year” recipient, as well as honoring all the nominations at their fourth annual Early Educators Conference.

The conference was held on January 21, 2017 and it marked the third consecutive year where a preschool teacher received the prestigious award.

The preschool teacher recognition spans across the six counties ELC covers and acknowledges the quality, creativity and hard work of those who teach children during a time when, according to researchers, rapid brain development can be leveraged toward long-term academic achievement.

This year’s Preschool Teacher of the Year winner was St. Johns County’s Marie Klingner of Memorial Lutheran Chapel School in St. Augustine. Marie creates “teachable moments” all day and her consistent support enables children to reach their highest potential.
This year’s Preschool Teacher of the Year nominees included: Elizabeth Biskentawi of Lighthouse Learning Center in Orange Park; Giana Jackson of Rainbow Center in Bradford county; Damaris Jimenez of Polka Dot Kids Center in Palatka; Jill Maunz of Shadowlawn Elementary in Green Cove Springs and Lori Studenski of Amdromeda Preschool in Orange Park.

“We celebrate and thank the important role these teachers have in supporting our youngest learners, who are our future leaders,” said Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at ELC of North Florida.

The nominees were recognized at the Early Educators Conference with a luncheon and awards ceremony sponsored by Kaplan Early Learning.

The conference also focused on early learning and provided continued training to early educators and inspire them to be quality teachers and care takers. Every attendee received continuing education credits for attending.

Topics at the conference included: sensory play, and how play is kindergarten readiness, along with story telling

Lisa Murphy, the founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc. was the speaker for the day. Lisa has been involved with early childhood education for over 20 years; teaching and working with children in various environments including Head Start, kindergarten, private preschools, family childcare, park and rec centers, group homes and many child care centers.

“What a joy to see this conference full to capacity. What inspires me is to see so many early educators together in one place all interested in bettering themselves as teachers. They have a special enthusiasm that other educators do not have and it is a privilege to organize conferences like this to better equip them with the tools they need in the classroom,” said Slava Shevchenko, Director at Academy of Sunshine.

Studies show that the best opportunity to influence children’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs and it is part of ELC’s mission to give educators the support they need to help children be better prepared to learn.

A special presentation to award the winner for the ELC preschool teacher of the year was also part of this year’s conference. Marie Klingner from Memorial Chaplin School in St. Augustine, was the recipient of a $500 cash prize donated and presented by Brian Williams of, Kaplan Early Learning Company.

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

 

 

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