"I have been a passionate educator in Clay and Vigo school corporations and a servant in children's ministries for 30 years. Their needs are always uppermost in my mind and heart," Deal said. "As a Clay County student myself, I remember the kindness given to me from my teachers and local civic groups who helped me financially with scholarships so I could attend college.
"I saw stepping up at the United Way Campaign as a way to repay those loving gifts that allowed me to follow my dreams of becoming a teacher."
The United Way Success by 6 program is a community based initiative designed to provide every child with the opportunity to develop basic reading skills so they may enter kindergarten ready to learn.
Here are the Clay County programs under Success by 6:
* Early education professional development grants, which support attendance at continuing education programs for child care providers/early educational professionals that work directly with children ages 0-6. The Linking Education to Adults, Adolescents and Preschoolers (LEAAP) Center, directed by Mary Yelton, is a prime recipient of Success by 6,
* Real Men Read is a program that brings men as role models of literacy into the Clay County elementary schools to read to students once a month for five months. The program encourages and improves literacy skills of the students, provides mentoring opportunities for men with students and gives students extra attention and positive role models who value education.
Each young student receives five books to build their own home library,
* Reading Buddies is a small step in helping a student lay a foundation for learning. In the spring, first-graders at Clay County elementary schools receive a stuffed animal to take their buddies home with them to encourage further reading with their families. As a former library/media specialist, Deal said she has witnessed first-hand what the buddies mean to children and the connection they bring to reading, and
* Born Learning Trails, which have nine signs with expert-approved learning games available, each with fun and easy activities for children and adults to work on together. They provide practical and engaging ideas to inspire families to make learning fun and interactive. Forest Park currently houses the Born Learning Trail adjacent to its playground and Clay City will soon be the recipient of one.
Deal said she hopes to bring more Success by 6 programs to Clay County, including "Mother Goose on the Loose."
In partnership with the Vigo County Public Library, "Mother Goose on the Loose," is an early literacy program for children ages 3-5, that uses rhymes and songs to help pre-reading children get ready for reading.
It incorporates music, movement, nursery rhymes, book reading and more into a fun-filled 30-minute session for children with their parents or caregivers.
"Let's unite Clay County and make a difference," Deal said.