FRC Lunch & Learn
Early Learning: Educational & Economic Development
Join the Future Ready Collier network to discuss the incredible impact of early learning on educational & economic outcomes.
What happens during children’s early years has lasting individual and societal repercussions. Therefore, what are we doing as a society to invest in the future generations? What economic benefits result from education, directly or indirectly? How can these important lessons be shared?
FRC is honored to feature two highly accomplished leaders of early learning in Florida: Matt Mears, FDOE Chancellor of Early Learning, and Susan Block, CEO of Early Learning Coalition of SWFL. (Please scroll down for their bios.)
The discussion will be facilitated by FRC strategic partner, Beth Hatch, Executive Director of Pathways Early Learning Center of Immokalee
This event is free and open to the public.
Do you have questions about education and economic development? Please send them in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the Presenters:
Susan E. Block, Ed.M.
Susan E. Block, Ed.M. is the Chief Executive Officer of the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida. Susan has a strong background in early learning as a teacher, coach and mentor to providers, an administrator of children’s programs and as an advocate for early learning policy and systems. She holds a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Susan views early learning as a key strategy for strengthening children, their families, and communities. Since early learning is foundational for both educational achievement and economic success, she believes that ensuring that all children are prepared for school should be a top priority for all communities.
Since moving to Southwest Florida, Susan has been active in Kiwanis, FutureMakers and Future Ready Collier where she is inspired by like-minded community partners who share her interest in building strong communities. On a statewide basis, Susan serves a leadership role for the Association of Early Learning Coalitions toward improving the statewide infrastructure in support of young children and their families. Susan aspires to see all children succeed entering school and throughout their lives.
Matthew H. Mears
As Chancellor of Early Learning, Matthew H. Mears oversees the Division of Early Learning which administers the state’s early learning programs, including the School Readiness Program and the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, as well as the Child Care Resource and Referral Program.
Before stepping into this role in August 2021, Matthew served as General Counsel for the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) for more than six years, providing legal advice and representation to the State Board of Education, the Commissioner of Education, all units within the FDOE, as well as the 67 school districts and the state colleges and universities.
Prior to joining FDOE, Matthew practiced in the Litigation Section of the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP, with a focus on supporting the needs of health care providers. He also served two years as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert L. Hinkle, then Chief Judge of the Northern District of Florida. Prior to attending law school, he served as a legislative analyst for the Florida House of Representatives.
Matthew’s commitment to improving the quality of early childhood programs in Florida grew not only from his own love of learning and his years of service to FDOE, but also as a volunteer math tutor for six years at Kate Sullivan Elementary School, and as a mentor at Griffin Middle School. He understands firsthand the difference caring individuals can make in encouraging and supporting learning and the impact of those early years on lifelong achievement and success.