Early learning leaders complete masterclass

Masterclass graduation
Children's Trust Board Chair Dr. Maggie Labarta, masterclass graduate Bonnie Bowman, Greater Gainesville Chamber COO Ian Fletcher, and Early Learning Coalition CEO Jacki Hodges.

The Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, the Business Leadership Institute (BLI) for Early Learning, and the Alachua County Children’s Trust recently celebrated the graduation of their first cohort in an early learning masterclass.  

The program, which was funded by the Children’s Trust, focused on business concepts relating to the early learning industry and the social significance and role in economics it has on the community. 

“When the Trust came to the Chamber to discuss partnering with BLI to do this class, it was a no-brainer for us,” said Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Gainesville Chamber Ian Fletcher in a press release. “We were at the table talking about how we get our youngest population ready for school. We were talking about how we help childcare centers with the resources they need to train their staff and operate.” 

Finance, marketing, human resources, and real estate are subjects taught over four months during the program. The Children’s Trust holds the sessions in its offices and offers a virtual curriculum platform.  

The graduation program included a panel led by Trisha Roy of Open Spaces International, which discussed the role of personal leadership in a business environment. Other panelists included Bonnie Bowman of Persimmon Early Learning Academy and Dietra Sherman of Pattie-Cake Christian Academy. 

The first cohort graduates include: 

  • 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 

Alachua County residents voted to create the Children’s Trust in 2018 to provide children’s services in the county. The Trust’s board of directors selected a new executive director last month.  

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