language and literacy skills of Georgia’s children
by providing research-based professional
development for organizations working with
children from birth through age eight.
Four Key Areas of work
Our efforts are always connected to our larger mission and extend across a variety of domains and disciplines.
Develop explicit partnering strategies for state-wide, cross-sector collaboration and partnerships focused on early language and literacy development.
Collecting, conducting and sharing evidence-based research and best practices in the field of early language and literary development.
Co-developing and co-delivering statewide professional training for educators of children from birth to age eight.
Partnering with public and private stakeholders and experts in communities throughout Georgia to design and invest in innovation and pilot programs.
LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
I am so excited to share with you a state-wide initiative founded by our Governor Deal and his wife, the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy.
Are you aware that Georgia currently prepares only 34% of children for reading proficiency by the end of the third grade? This means only 1 in 3 eight-year-olds are ready and able to confidently proceed to the fourth grade with the critical foundation of early language and literacy. This has potentially dire consequences for children who often get left behind.
I would like you to stop and think for a moment to ponder this question – how would your life be different today if you could not read or write?
What foundation are we laying for our children? Are we doing our best? Our vision at the Deal Center, simply put, is to propel every Georgia child to read proficiently and beyond. We believe we can and must do better. Our children deserve better. Children need to read well and on grade level by third grade to have the best chance for success in education and ultimately in the work force and in life. Reaching this goal is vitally important. But it is also a shared responsibility. We understand that creating systemic change requires collective impact with cross-sector collaboration. This is why the Deal Center has partnerships at the core of its work and acts as a catalyst to direct and focus our efforts and energy. The Deal Center desires to amplify what is already working and invest in new innovative strategies and approaches.
Your help and support is critical to success!
The Deal Center will employ explicit partnering strategies for state-wide, cross-sector collaboration and partnerships focused on early language and literacy.
Will you work with me to make this vision a success? It is only with the full support of all organizations and individuals operating in the birth to third-grade continuum that we can accomplish our goal for the children of Georgia. I am honored to work with all partners to change lives through literacy and turn this promise into practice and policy.
So join us and find your role to help make sure every child reads proficiently and beyond!
Dr. Theresa Magpuri-Lavell
Georgia College Leadership
Georgia College is the host institution for the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy.
Meet the leaders who help make that relationship possible.
Dr. Steven Dorman
President of Georgia College
Dr. Dorman is the 11th President of Georgia College & State University, Georgia’s designated public liberal arts university. Prior to his selection as Georgia College’s president, Dr. Dorman served as a professor and dean of the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida for six years. In addition to his leadership at the University of Florida, he has taught both undergraduate and graduate students and served in academic leadership roles at Texas A&M University. A published author, Dr. Dorman is a health educator by training and has written on topics pertaining to school health programs. Among other academic achievements, he earned Eta Sigma Gamma’s Honor Award for his contributions to the health sciences profession and the American School Health Association’s William Howe Award and National Health Educator of the Year. Dr. Dorman earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee, a master’s degree in public health and doctorate of philosophy in health education, both at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Dr. Kelli Brown
Provost of Georgia College
Dr. Brown has spent more than 29 years in higher education. She has been extensively involved in professional development including being named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow for the 2011-2012 academic year. As provost since June 2013, Brown has made several important contributions to Georgia College. She significantly transformed the support infrastructure for students and revamped the way academic support programs are delivered. Brown received her Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She received both her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from The University of Toledo and her associate degree from The Michael J. Owens Technical College.
Dr. Theresa Magpuri-Lavell
Dr. Theresa Magpuri-Lavell was appointed Executive Director of Center in December 2017. Prior to this, Dr. Magpuri-Lavell was an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY and serving as the Scholar in Residence for Jefferson County Public Schools. As Scholar in Residence, she worked closely with school district leaders to coordinate the operations of a teacher capacity building program for over 1000 K-5, ELL, and ECE teachers in evidence-based literacy practices through graduate level coursework with on-site coaching support over a four year period. Dr. Magpuri-Lavell received her doctorate in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership with a specialization in Reading Education from the University of Memphis. After receiving her Master’s in Education from Lesley University, she taught elementary school for ten years in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Japan. She has dedicated her professional career passionately advocating for early language and literacy as a classroom teacher, professor, scholar, and collaborative university partner with public school districts and the community.
The nine-member board, appointed by the Governor, oversees the Center, working to enhance the state’s ability to train educators and improve early childhood education.
“Early language development and literacy are vitally important to ensuring successful educational opportunities for Georgia’s youngest learners,” said Deal. “The Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College will work tirelessly to make sure our children and educators are equipped with the right tools and instruction to succeed. I am pleased that AFY 2017 budget allocated funds to bring this center’s vision to fruition, and I look forward to working with the center and its governing board as they begin this great work.”
The board is comprised of leaders representing the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, the Technical College System of Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, the Georgia Public Library Service, Georgia College, the Georgia Board of Education, providers of primary health care and education advocacy organizations across the state.
Board members were selected based on background and experience in advocating for early childhood care and education across the state. A total of $2.4 million was allocated in the AFY 2017 budget to create the Milledgeville Center with an additional $2.7 million proposed for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
2019 Board Meeting Dates: Regular quarterly meetings for the Board of the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy are scheduled for these dates in 2019: January 16, April 17, July 17, October 16. Meetings will be held from 10 am to 12 pm. The January meeting will be held in Atlanta. The April, July and October meetings will be held at Georgia College in Milledgeville. For more information, please contact the Center at 478-445-8500.
Upcoming Board meeting: The regular Quarterly Board meeting of the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College will be held on April 17th, 2019 from 10 am to 12 pm at Parks Hall, Room 301, Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA, 31061. Call 478-445-8500 for more information.
Upcoming Committee meeting: The Research Sub-committee of the Governing Board of the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College will hold its quarterly meeting by teleconference on March 27, 2019 from 9 am to 10 am. If you wish to listen to the teleconference meeting, please call the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy in advance at 478-445-8500 to be given the conference call number and access code.
Amy M. Jacobs, Chair
Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
Jacobs is the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Appointed commissioner by Governor Nathan Deal in 2014, she oversees an annual budget of more than $800 million for programs benefiting children and families including child care licensing, nutrition, and early childhood education, specifically Georgia’s Pre-K Program. Jacobs previously served as a senior policy adviser for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. She is a member of the Georgia’s Children’s Cabinet, the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel, the Alliance of Education Agency Heads, and the 2020 Complete Count Committee. She sits on the board of directors for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and is chair of the board for the Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning.
Arianne Weldon, Vice-Chair
Get Georgia Reading Campaign
Weldon is the director of the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, a collaboration of more than 100 public and private partners working to ensure that all children in Georgia become proficient readers by the end of third grade. She was previously the Maternal and Child Health Services Title V administrator for the Georgia Department of Public Health and the director of State Partnership Strategies for Georgia Family Connection Partnership. Weldon earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in public health from Emory University.
Keisha R. Callins, M.D., M.P.H
Mercer University School of Medicine/Community Health Care Systems
Callins is a women’s health professional. She serves on faculty at Mercer University School of Medicine and works with Community Health Care Systems, a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers that provides healthcare services to rural and underserved areas in middle Georgia. She previously worked at the Mirian Worthy Women’s Health Center, Albany, Georgia and served as assistant medical director for Albany Area Primary Health Care. Callins is currently in the 2018 Class of the Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy, a 2015 alumni of Leadership Georgia and serves on the Georgia Composite Medical Board. She has served on appointed committees with Mercer University School of Medicine, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and Albany Area Primary Health Care. Callins earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). She completed her graduate medical training at the MSM OB/GYN Residency Program at Grady Memorial Hospital, where she served as chief resident. Callins is member of civic organizations including Rotary Club and Junior League. She is the author of a monthly women’s health segment in the SW Georgia Health Beat.
Georgia Public Library Service
Cornelisen is the assistant state librarian for library innovation and collaboration with the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. She has more than 15 years of experience working in and with public libraries. Cornelisen holds leadership roles in the Georgia Library Association and is a past president of the Tennessee Library Association. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in information science from the University of Tennessee.
Cayanna Good, Ph.D.
Cayanna Good Governor’s Office of Student Achievement
Dr. Cayanna Good is the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. She was previously the Deputy Director of Innovation and Academic Strategy for the agency and has also served as the Director of School Improvement for the Georgia Department of Education. Dr. Good has experience as both a high school and elementary school teacher. She has also worked as an overseeing partner of the New Teacher Project’s Georgia Teaching Fellows and as the managing director of the Teach for America School Leadership Initiative. Dr. Good serves on the Georgia Children’s Cabinet, the Georgia Department of Public Health Brain Trust 4 Babies Board, the Alliance of Education Agency Heads, the Get Georgia Reading Campaign Cabinet, and the board of the Innovation Fund Foundation. Dr. Good earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Fisk University, a master’s degree in Education from Georgia State University and a doctoral degree from Mercer University.
Lucky Jain, M.D.
Emory Children’s Center
Jain is the president and CEO of the Emory Children’s Center and the Richard W. Blumberg professor and chairman of Pediatrics at the Emory University School of Medicine. He is the chief academic officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and a senior investigator at the Center for Cell and Molecular Signaling. Jain also holds a joint appointment as a professor in the Emory Department of Physiology. He is an elected member of the Society for Pediatric Research and the American Pediatric Society. Jain is also a fellow of the Woodruff Leadership Academy and has received numerous teaching awards, including the Ross Educator of the Year award from the Southern Society for Pediatric Research and the Most Distinguished Physician of the Year award from the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin. He is a graduate of Sawai ManSingh Medical College Jaipur and trained in neonatology in Chicago.
Georgia Board of Education
Kinnemore represents the 4th Congressional District on the Georgia Board of Education. She also sits on the advisory board of Thrive Youth Development, Inc. and sat on the board of Northeast Independent Preparatory Academy for five years. Kinnemore earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University.
Joe Peters, Ph.D.
Peters is the dean of education at Georgia College. He served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves and has taught grades K-8, high school science, and university courses at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of West Florida, Mercyhurst College, Pensacola State College, Chaminade University, and Georgia College. He was previously an executive director representative to the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, a North American representative to the International Council of Associations for Science Education, and executive director of the Association for Science Teacher Education. He is the secretary of the Milledgeville Rotary and board member of the Oconee RESA. Peters earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Mercyhurst College, master’s degrees in natural sciences and environmental education from Gannon University, and a doctoral degree in science education from the University of Pittsburgh.
Martha Ann Todd
Technical College System of Georgia
Todd is the deputy commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia. She was previously the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA). In her career, she has also been an assistant superintendent for Meriwether County Schools and an associate superintendent of teacher and leader effectiveness with the Georgia Department of Education. Todd has more than 38 years of experience in public and private education, working with students grades K-12 as a classroom teacher and has held a range of leadership roles at the school, district and state level. She previously served as chair of the Georgia Alliance of Education Agency Heads and is a member of the Georgia Children’s Cabinet. Todd is a graduate of Emory University, Columbus State University and Georgia College.