All of us at GEEARS are grieving the passing of former First Lady Sandra Dunagan Deal. We worked with Mrs. Deal on several early childhood initiatives, both during her time as First Lady and after.
The fact is, Mrs. Deal didn’t parachute into this issue. She always knew that early education was a critical foundation for every child—and that every child deserved high-quality care.
GEEARS’ Board chair, Stephanie Blank, worked closely with Mrs. Deal for many years and shares these thoughts and memories:
“Mrs. Deal was truly a warm and caring champion of all Georgia’s children, and, in so many ways, she served as a grandmother (and teacher) to them all.
I am particularly saddened at this loss because after serving for eight years as a part of her Children’s Cabinet, I considered her to be not only a mentor and inspiration for the work we do but also a friend.
Some of my fondest memories with Mrs. Deal came from traveling around our state to award the Pre-K Teacher of the Year honor. She always had optimism, faith, and a wonderful sense of humor that made each visit a joy. She exemplified the role of the First Lady and what it means to serve with grace and compassion for all of Georgia’s citizens. We will all miss her dearly and send our deepest condolences to Governor Deal and the Deal family.”
Mrs. Deal traveled to every county in Georgia to read to young children. To honor her memory, we’ve chosen a gift with Mrs. Deal’s values in mind—we’re donating 1,500 Mayor’s Summer Reading Club books to Pre-K classrooms across the state. We know that the teachers who read these books aloud to their students share Mrs. Deal’s belief In the power of a good story and the importance of literacy.