Attendees at May’s Leadership NEXT session will learn firsthand why Early Childhood Education is a difference-maker in the lives of local youth.

The School District of Lee County will lead the May 14 session, focusing on the period of cognitive development from birth through age 5. A key component of the conversation will cover why kindergarten is too late to start school and the benefits of an early start.

High-quality Early Childhood Education programs provide young learners with a strong academic foundation, as well as teach social and emotional skills, self-discipline and other behavioral traits. Research studies continue to prove the value of investing in early learning, from higher rates of academic achievement and employment to lower dropout and arrest rates.  

Leadership NEXT is a monthly program offering unique educational and networking opportunities for advancing business professionals in Southwest Florida.

The upcoming Leadership NEXT program runs from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14 at The School District of Lee County’s Early Childhood Education Center at the Lee Adolescent Mothers Program (LAMP): 3650 Michigan Ave. in Fort Myers. Complimentary light appetizers and refreshments will be available, and attendees will be eligible to win prizes.

Program speakers include Kim Gerbasio, infant and toddler teacher on assignment; Mia German, assistant principal; Tiffany Franklin, coordinator of teaching and learning; and Marlen Solana, family and community engagement coordinator. Among the topics to be covered are Head Start, conscious discipline, early childhood literacy and early childhood resources.

The School District of Lee County is sponsoring the program. With more than 96,000 students, the District is the ninth-largest school system in Florida and 33rd-largest district in the U.S., and its approximately 12,000 full- and part-time employees make the District one of Southwest Florida’s largest employers.

Leadership NEXT attendees represent a variety of businesses and industries throughout Southwest Florida. Monthly sessions take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month and offer opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills, establish working relationships with colleagues and engage in valuable programs and discussions to further enhance their careers. The Leadership NEXT annual program is sponsored by the Florida Gulf Coast University Alumni Association.

Leadership NEXT is free to attend for members of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and $10 for future members. Attendees are encouraged to register in advance at FortMyers.org and follow “Leadership NEXT” on Facebook for more information.

About the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce:
Serving Lee County and surrounding areas since 1989, the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Inc. is a business organization of professionals who support and promote a progressive, sustainable community. The Chamber represents nearly 800 businesses, professionals and individuals throughout Lee County, providing opportunities for members to participate in a variety of meaningful networking, educational and community- and business-focused programs and events. The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce is located at 2310 Edwards Drive in downtown Fort Myers. For additional information regarding membership opportunities or events please call 239-332-3624 or visit www.fortmyers.org. For the latest news and updates, follow the Chamber on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gfmcc or Twitter at @FtMyersChamber.