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Quality Programs

Quality Programs

A high-quality early childhood program provides a safe and nurturing environment while promoting the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of young children.  Early childhood is generally defined as birth through age eight.  While growth and development can be seen as a continuum from birth onward, we know that there are some significant changes at certain ages and stages.  The Early Learning Coalition offers School Readiness providers the opportunity to participate in various quality initiatives-both local and state driven-to enhance the quality early learning experience within their programs.

Meet our Team


Ken Buchanan, Quality Programs Supervisor
 Ken holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Education.  Over the past 18 years, he has had the pleasure of working in many facets of education, including directing an afterschool and summer program, tutoring seven and eighth-grade students, VPK teacher for Headstart, and most recently, a Provider Support Specialist and Professional Development Trainer.  Ken is a certified C.L.A.S.S.  PreK, infant and toddler observer, a  Lastinger certified coach, an  MMCI instructor and an expert in the early child care accreditation process. Ken has been married to his wonderful wife Christina for 6 years and they have a five-year-old daughter Evelyn that means the world to them.  Ken loves to venture up north and out west to enjoy snow skiing when he can!


Amanda Houston, Professional Development Coordinator
Amanda has a degree in early childhood development and over 15 years of experience in various roles within the early childhood field.  She believes that children deserve a solid foundation for learning and that it is the responsibility of those in the early childhood field to create an environment that supports intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth for all children.


Carol Terrazas, Quality Programs Coordinator
Carol has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development from the University of South Florida and taught PreK / VPK for twenty-five years in Pinellas County.  She enjoys technical writing and is proud of the revised Child Developmental Checklist & Tips Booklets (Flip Books) that she created with a small group of early childhood professionals. Carol is married and has three grown children and a cat. When she’s not at work, she loves to travel and explore new destinations.


Shrieka Hollis, Quality Specialist-Assessor
Shrieka is a Florida native. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health with a focus on Early Childhood Education. Shrieka has 22 years of experience working with children and providers including teacher assistant, teacher, center director for school age, and her current role as Quality Specialist for birth to 5. Shrieka is a certified PreK, Infant and Toddler CLASS Observer, as well as an Early Learning Florida
Lastinger Coach.  She is a mother of one adult daughter. Shrieka values positive relationships that are crucial to development and learning; she is passionate about quality care and truly believes in supporting teachers and providers in an effort to increase quality for children.


Sima Saffary, Quality Specialist-Assessor 
Sima has a BA in Education from Eckerd College and has over 30 years of experience working in Early Childhood Education. Sima is a certified PreK, Toddler, and Infant CLASS observer as well as an Early Learning Florida Lastinger Coach.  She believes supporting teachers and directors enables them to reflect on their impact in their classrooms and achieve their full potential.  Sima is a mother to a beautiful daughter and has two young grandsons whom she adores. Her passion for young children receiving quality early learning to prepare them for school success is undeniable.


Suzanne Silkie, Quality Specialist-Assessor
Suzanne has a BA in Social & Behavioral Sciences and 25 years of experience working in Early Childhood.  Suzanne is a certified PreK, Toddler & Infant CLASS Observer and an Early Learning Florida Coach.  She believes that teachers of young children need ongoing support & education to do this awesome work.



Linda Townsend, Quality Specialist-Assessor
Linda is originally from Long Island, NY but has lived here in Pinellas County since 1990. Linda has a BA in Early Childhood Development from St Petersburg College. She is a certified PreK CLASS observer and is working toward her certification for Infant and Toddler. She has 28 years of experience working in the classroom with children as a teacher and has worked with families as a Director of a preschool here in Pinellas County. Linda believes in a hands-on learning approach providing children a variety of experiences to develop social, emotional and physical growth. To achieve that she also believes that providers, teachers need the guidance and support to provide the best environment for children to be successful. She has been married for 23 years and has two adult sons that she is very proud of. She enjoys baseball, traveling and hiking in her free time. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” ~ Nelson Mandela


Linda Johnson, Quality Specialist-Literacy
Linda is a Polk County Florida native.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education/Early Childhood Education from the University of South Florida.  She also holds an American Montessori Society Pre-primary certificate and a Florida Director’s credential.  For over 35 years, she was Head Directress at a local Montessori school where infants through eighth graders attended.  Linda has been involved in education from a very young age, volunteering at childcare centers, and then following her dreams to become a teacher/administrator to young children. Linda believes that teaching young children through hands-on, sensory materials and developing early literacy skills are the pathways to early learning success.  She greatly enjoys sharing her knowledge with other childcare providers, families and always with children.

Literacy Programs

Do you remember how you felt the first time you opened a new book as a child?  Flipping through the pages filled with brightly colored illustrations and being transported to a world of make-believe. These experiences build the foundation of literacy skills in young learners, but sadly, there are children in our community that never have that same connection with books.  Below are a list of literacy programs that help put a book in the hands of children across Pinellas.


Officer Friendly’s Book Club

Officer Friendly’s Book Club pairs local law enforcement officers and early learning centers together to promote literacy and positive police relationships.  The shared reading experiences promote a love of reading and build positive relationships between our youngest citizens and law enforcement.


Nemours. Reading Bright Start!

A research program that researches, develops, and offers evidence-based tools that target young children at risk for reading failure.  The goal is to effectively instruct children at the very beginning of their reading journey to ensure long-term reading success.  The program helps parents and teachers understand key concepts and actions needed to promote reading success for children through a variety of specific tools, services, and resources.


Help Me Learn!

A hands-on literacy program, where age-appropriate materials, books, and activities are provided to Family Childcare Homes.  Families are encouraged to “check out” the materials and bring them home to engage in the activities with their children.  Coalition staff provide technical assistance and monitor progress.


Ready to Read Lending Library

Ready to Read Pinellas is sharing the joy of reading by placing high-quality age-appropriate books in the hands of young children.  Through a generous grant received from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Coalition was able to provide twenty-seven mobile bookcases for VPK classrooms in twenty early childhood centers.  Each bookcase includes 24 developmentally appropriate picture books that the parents may check out to read to their children at home.  In addition, ten parent resource books on child development, early literacy, health and nutrition, and behavior management are available for the parents’ personal use.  There are 20 childcare centers, and 27 classrooms with Ready to Read libraries for children to use.

  1. ABC Kids
  2. Academy for Love and Learning
  3. All About Learning
  4. Belcher Academy
  5. Building Blocks Children’s Center
  6. Delores M Smith Academy
  7. iDiscover Christian Academy
  8. Kids Christian Care of First United Methodist
  9. Kidz World Preschool
  10. Largo Country School
  11. Little Ones Preschool
  12. Living Love Early Childhood Center
  13. New Beginnings Preschool
  14. R’Club Early Learning Academy @ Breeden
  15. Rosies Playschool l
  16. Rosies Playschool ll
  17. Rosies Playschool lll
  18. St Pete Prep
  19. Young Achievers Learning Center


For more information or questions on our literacy programs, please contact our Literacy Quality Specialist, Linda Johnson, at ljohnson@elcpinellas.net/727-400-4464

Sponsored by Florida’s Office of Early Learning