The Marion County School Board is opening an early learning academy and seeking public opinion to name the facility.

Located at 4000 W. Anthony Road on the campus of the former Evergreen Elementary School in Ocala, the program opens in August to early learners – pre-school aged students as young as four years.

Public votes on eight possible names can be submitted by visiting by 5 p.m. this Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Name possibilities include:

  • Bright Star Learning
  • Bright Stars Early Learning Academy
  • Bright Stars Elementary
  • Brick City Early Learning Academy
  • First Light Academy
  • Fordham Early Learning Academy
  • H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Pupils Excel) Academy
  • Marion Early Learning Academy

School Board Chair Eric Cummings, Vice-Chair Allison Campbell, and School Board Members Don Browning, Kelly King, and Nancy Thrower will vote on the final name at their June 28 meeting starting at 9 a.m. in Marion Technical Institute’s Browne Greaton Cole auditorium located at 1614 E. Fort King St. in Ocala.

Early Learning Coalition Receives Additional Funding for Childcare Assistance

Marion, FL – 12/4/2020 – The Early Learning Coalition of Marion County (ELCMC) has announced they are clearing their waitlist for eligible families seeking assistance with the cost of childcare through the School Readiness program. Over $1.5 million in funding will be utilized to subsidize the cost of child care for eligible employed families and students whose children require early education programs during the parents work or education hours.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic ELCMC’s School Readiness program assisted with the child care for thousands of Marion County children, at least 700 of which were children of first responders and healthcare workers. ELCMC looks to make sure more parents can remain employed or further their education as Marion County recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I pushed my friends and family to apply,” said Nicollette Williams, who has received School Readiness assistance for the past eight years. “It gives your child an education and you get the opportunity to make a living.”

Additionally, ELCMC looks to ensure the future of many local small businesses in Marion County.

“These childcare providers are primarily small local businesses,” explains ELCMC CEO Roseann Fricks.

“Florida has seen thousands of small businesses shut their doors for good since March of this year”, says Fricks. The additional funding will also assist in keeping Marion County’s child care businesses open during these times of economic recovery.

For more information on how to apply for School Readiness parents can visit the Early Learning Coalition’s website at, or call the Coalition at (352) 369-2315.

Nicolette Williams and her child (right) being recertified for School Readiness funding by ELCMC staff, Crystal Dugan (left).