September 8, 2021 via Leesburg-News.com (see orignial article)

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties received a grant of $10,000 from Suncoast Credit Union to provide classroom materials for early learning centers participating in the Master Teacher program. This program provides supervision and guidance for early education teachers in classrooms throughout Lake and Sumter Counties to help them enhance their instruction and prepare their students for kindergarten. The grant will allow UWLS to furnish participating classrooms with engaging, age-appropriate educational materials for students. 

“A huge thank you to Suncoast Credit Union for providing us with this grant for $10,000,” said Michelle Dean, Director of Educational Programs at UWLS. “If you could see me, you would know that I am dancing with joy at the prospect of providing our early childhood classroom teachers and children with much-needed educational materials.” 

The Master Teacher program at UWLS partners with the Early Learning Coalitions of Lake County and the Nature Coast to reach children age 5 and younger. The majority of these children come from families with low-to-moderate incomes.  

“This generous grant will directly impact the students in toddler through VPK classrooms,” Dean said. To see the joy on the children’s faces is absolutely priceless. These children are able to put their little hands on new learning materials for the first time, and it’s life changing while also improving their learning. Many of them say its like Christmas. Suncoast Credit Union’s grant will truly put a smile on the faces of the young children that we serve.” 

Students who participated in the Master Teacher program last year achieved a 70 percent increase in receptive and expressive language skills. Suncoast Credit Union’s grant will enable UWLS to spread these results to more classrooms throughout Lake and Sumter Counties this school year.