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Business Leadership Institute for Early Learning Alachua County Masterclass 1 Graduation

Press release from Children’s Trust of Alachua County

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Children’s Trust of Alachua County joined the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce and the Business Leadership Institute for Early Learning to celebrate the graduation of the first Early Learning cohort on August 13, 2022.

Members included owners and directors of Early Learning Centers and Family Based home businesses in Alachua County. The Trust funded the complete program.

Children’s Trust Board Chair Maggie Labarta explained that the Trust views child care in a “holistic manner,” saying that these early learning centers are small businesses. Like other small businesses, they need help providing professional services and expanding the capacity of their businesses. 

Ian Fletcher, Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Gainesville Chamber, told the story of how the Children’s Trust came to be:

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“The very first thing that was discussed was children from zero to five and … about how they learn and how much their brain capacity can take during that time. So when the Trust came to the Chamber to talk about partnering with BLI to do this class, it was a no-brainer for us. We were at the table talking about how do we get our youngest population ready for school. We were talking about how do we help child care centers with the resources that they need not only to train their staff but to operate.”

The curriculum explores the most important business concepts related to the early learning industry, expressing the social significance of this work and its essential role in the economics of the community. The subject matter of finance, marketing, human resources, and real estate was delivered in four sessions over four months at the offices of the Children’s Trust, combined with a virtual curriculum platform and monthly zoom group discussions. Subject matter experts from the local business community facilitated each session.

Children’s Trust Board Chair Dr. Maggie Labarta congratulates graduate Bonnie Bowman, along with Ian Fletcher, Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Gainesville Chamber, and Jacki Hodges, Chief Executive Officer of the Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County.

Graduates included:

·      Shateka Akridge – Small Steps Institute- Gainesville

·      Bonnie Bowman – Persimmon Early Learning Academy – Gainesville 

·      Lakisha Dickerson – Lee’s Fun to Learn Daycare & Tutoring – Gainesville

·      SyBrenda Johnson – Lil Scholars Learning Academy – Gainesville

·      Densie McGinnis-Brown – Hagios Early Learning Center – Gainesville

·      Stephanie Norman – C-CAMPIS for Santa Fe College – Gainesville

·      Sylvia Paluzzi – Morning Meadow Preschool and Kindergarten – Gainesville

·      Tamika Rutledge – Rutledge Large Family Child Care Home – Gainesville

·      Suzana Sargent – Premier School – Gainesville

·      Russell Scoates – Small World Daycare & Learning Center- Gainesville

·      Dietra Sherman – Pattie-Cake Christian Academy – Alachua

·      Gregory Sherman – Pattie-Cake Christian Academy – Alachua

·      Sherry Smith – Little People Preparatory Preschool – Gainesville

·      Misty Smith – Little People Preparatory Preschool – Gainesville

The graduation program included a panel discussion on the role of personal leadership in the current challenging business environment. The panel was led by Trisha Roy of Open Spaces International. Roy is a facilitator in the program and is a member of SCORE. Panelists included Bonnie Bowman of Persimmon Early Learning Academy and Dietra Sherman of Pattie-Cake Christian Academy. 

Personal Leadership Panel Discussion was led by Trisha Roy (center) of Open Spaces International. Panelists included Bonnie Bowman (left) of Persimmon Early Learning Academy and Dietra Sherman (right) of Pattie-Cake Christian Academy.
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