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The Saugus, MA, branch of Lakeshore Learning was bustling with teachers and excitement as 12 Flamingo Early Learning educators took part in a group shopping trip on Sept. 1 for school supplies and resources, all at no cost to them. 

The educational supply store opened its doors earlier than usual to accommodate these special guests from Aspire Early Education and welcomed them with purple and green balloons, snacks, small gifts and hidden messages among the shelves.

“I just wish I could bottle the energy in that room,” said Karen Osarenkhoe, a coach for the Flamingo Early implementation team in Massachusetts, “It’s a magic I haven’t seen in a while.”

Supported by Aspire Developmental Services and the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, this shopping event allowed educators to select the tools they needed most to supplement the strategies they are learning through their Flamingo Early Learning curriculum.

Since 2020, the Lastinger Center for Learning has been serving educators in Massachusetts through the Early Childhood Support Organization (ESCO) Initiative with its Flamingo Early Learning program. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and national philanthropic organization New Profit oversee and support this initiative to ensure children receive high-quality education. 

The Lastinger Center connects these two larger institutions to local center-based programs through its Flamingo Early Learning Implementation team, featuring expert coaches such as Osarenkhoe that facilitate the ECSO process.

Flamingo Early Learning launches a new cohort each year in Massachusetts, beginning with the first cohort in 2020.These cohorts feature early childhood programs like Aspire Early Education that are matched to the Flamingo Early Learning system depending on their compatibility with the Flamingo model.

As of 2022, there are now three cohorts, leading to a total of about 27 programs, 85 program leaders and over 300 educators involved with the Flamingo Early Learning professional development system in Massachusetts. 

3 cohorts

27 programs

85 program leaders

300 educators

Program leaders and educators alike have access to Flamingo online coursework and communities of practice (CoPs)* to improve efficiency, expand their knowledge on education and leadership and grow professionally.

Leaders and educators work together to practice and develop these skills alongside the coursework, especially through intentional coaching partnerships.

“This course has certainly taught me new things, and I have given it all right back to the educators,” said a program leader, “I have changed. I feel that I am much more purposeful in my job.”

Flamingo Early Learning also connects with other ECSOs and Massachusetts’ initiatives. The program’s implementation team presented the Lastinger Center’s unique CoP model to other educational leaders as part of the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children’s (MA AEYC) 19th Annual Conference in Mansfield, MA, on Sept 10. 

If you would like to learn more about the Lastinger Center for Learning’s involvement in Massachusetts, please contact Ron Viafore at rviafore@coe.ufl.edu.

What is a CoP?

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of individuals who share a common goal and passion or profession striving to improve practices or outcomes. In education, CoPs come together regularly to share best practices, address problems of practice and reflect and collaborate to develop new knowledge to improve outcomes.

12 teachers accompanied by various program leaders and employees stand in the Lakeshore Learning store.