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Pinellas Early Learning Initiative (PELI)

The Pinellas County Schools Early Learning Initiative (PELI) focuses on improving literacy outcomes for pre-K children, ensuring they are prepared for kindergarten. In partnership with Pinellas County Schools and the Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition (PCELC), principals, assistant principals, directors, coaches, teachers and associate teachers are engaged in on-going, high-quality professional development through Early Literacy Courses and bi-monthly Early Literacy Communities of Practice.

The Lastinger Center partners with Pinellas County Schools to support the design, implementation and evaluation of a research-based literacy professional development system for the district’s teachers, instructional coaches and administrators in order to bolster students’ literacy achievements. Professional learning experiences include:

  • Access to online Literacy Matrix professional development content
  • Summer virtual professional development for Literacy Matrix participants
  • Summer Bridge reading camp
  • Literacy coaching professional development
  • Leaders of Early Literacy professional development
  • Access to digital leveled-library and virtual resources
A child smiling at the camera with a book in front of them

“The idea of collecting data and sharing that when coaching to discuss equity and being critically conscious was the most helpful.”


“It was eye-opening to learn about the science of reading. I am teaching 3rd grade, and many of my students are not able to read yet. This helped me better understand why.”


About PELI

Reading is vital for success in school and in life

The Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative (PELI) is a Lastinger Center initiative developed with the Pinellas Education Foundation and Pinellas County Schools that aims to improve kindergarten readiness rates and literacy proficiency among Pre-K and elementary school students. 

The objective: to increase the number of students who are reading on grade level before they reach the third grade, when academic progress is assessed. 

By marshaling resources to enhance support of Pre-K and K-2 teachers, leaders hope to impact the number of students who are kindergarten-ready and developing grade-appropriate literary skills.

Comprehensive Partnership Components

The initiative is rooted in the belief that teachers and leaders are the vital to higher student achievement. Teachers and other school leaders are using the resources and tools below to build their skills to develop the ability to transform reading instruction the county’s youngest scholars. 

Young girl reads a book while laying on the floor

It’s Working

The initiative is producing terrific readers. For example, at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, only 5% of first grade students in PELI schools were reading above grade level. By the end of the year, that number was up to 73%. It continues to grow as educators leverage their new skills and guide young scholars according to the Science of Reading.


Florida Philanthropic Site Visit

Members of the Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN) are visiting Highpoint Elementary school to see a charitable investment in action. The Helios Education Foundation and The Pinellas Education Foundation invested in reaching-based, high quality professional development about the Science of Reading. Now highly skilled teachers are using their new skills and tools to help striving readers grow into confident reading scholars. Attendees will: 

  • Visit a classroom to see the Lastinger Center’s Flamingo Small Group Reading Instruction Model in action with young scholars.
  • Hear teacher testimonials on how the job-embedded professional development and coaching revolutionized their literacy instruction.
  • Learn how this philanthropic investment has changed the trajectory of a school and children’s lives.

FPN Members can contact Bill Hoffman for registration information.


9:00 AM on June 15, 2022
Highpoint Elementary School
5921 150th Ave. N. 
Clearwater, FL 33760