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Florida Association for Education of Young Children adds Guadalupe Center’s Dawn Montecalvo to board of directors

Guadalupe Center President and CEO Dawn Montecalvo has joined the board of directors for the Florida Association for Education of Young Children (FLAEYC), an organization that nurtures young minds and supports educators.

FLAEYC’s board of directors champions equitable access to quality early education for all children and advocates for the respect, support, skill development and fair compensation of early childhood educators. The association provides leadership, advocacy, professional development and networking opportunities to increase awareness of the benefits of high-quality early learning programs.

Montecalvo, who has led Guadalupe Center since 2016, recently served on a statewide steering committee for The Children’s Movement of Florida, an advocacy group that created “Florida’s Early Learning Roadmap” to reimagine education for the state’s youngest learners.

“Nationally, so much of the conversation and resources are directed to elementary, secondary and higher education,” Montecalvo said. “Yet, research study after research study point to early childhood education as having the greatest impact on a student’s ability to thrive academically, socially, emotionally and behaviorally. The period from birth to age 5 is critical in a child’s development, and organizations like the FLAEYC are gaining momentum as the impact of a high-quality early childhood education becomes clearer.”

The state organization is an affiliate of The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), which accredits early learning centers offering a high-quality curriculum and exemplary learning environments.

Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education Program at the Morgridge Family Early Childhood Education Campus in Immokalee is the only NAEYC-accredited program in Collier County and among just 10% nationally to earn the designation.

The FLAEYC has four goals:

  • Promoting equitable access to developmentally appropriate, high-quality early learning programs for children from birth through age 8.
  • Recognizing the early childhood education profession as vital for performing a critical role in society.
  • Reflecting excellence in all aspects of organizational health and vitality.
  • Cultivating leadership and incubating innovative strategies that propel the field, profession and systems of early learning.

Guadalupe Center, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2024, serves about 1,950 students, including 566 in the Early Childhood Education Program.

Under Montecalvo’s leadership, Guadalupe Center has added two campuses and reduced the waitlist for its early learning programs by 75%. Montecalvo has served underprivileged populations in Southwest Florida for more than two decades, including a role as executive director of Naples Children & Education Foundation. A graduate of American University and The College of New Jersey, Montecalvo also serves as chair of the Immokalee Unmet Needs Coalition and board member for BelieveNBooks.

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