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Our Approach

Our Story

The Proverbs Project is a community initiative designed to spread the word about five simple, fun ways for families to develop language in children from birth to age four. Children with well-developed language skills are more likely to get a better start in life. Solid language skills allow children to express their wants and needs.

The project had its beginning when Connie Bateman retired from the School District of DeSoto County located in rural Arcadia, Florida.  Although retired, Connie knew she was not through with teaching. Her own observations gave her reason to believe that fewer and fewer of Arcadia's children were coming to Kindergarten not ready to handle the rigors of a formal public education, and the hard data provided by Florida's Department of Education supported her notions. Connie set out to try to find some answers.

Our Story

Intrigued by the work of Dr. Ronald Ferguson of Harvard (see Boston Basics), Connie began to talk to community members and local decision makers about developing a way to get the word out about five fundamental things parents should do with their children to give them a better chance for success in life.

Why The "Proverbs" Project?

Proverbs 22:6, "Start children off on the way they should go and even when they are old they will not turn from it."

After years of knowing something had to change for our kids, Connie felt called to make a difference by letting Christ lead the way. In October of 2017, Connie and Dale approached The DeSoto County Ministerial Association, who approved the support and backing to launch The Proverbs Project. The vision to be a community renewal movement with Christ at the helm.

The DeSoto Memorial Hospital, the Health Department, members of the Arcadia City Council, members of the DeSoto County Commission, the DeSoto Economic Council, and many others have all informally expressed interest in and support for the project.  The Proverbs Project is a community-based initiative with no government form of funding.  At the time of this posting, the project is solely supported through The DeSoto Ministerial Association, private donations, in-kind services, and hours of time provided by dedicated volunteers.

Meet the Team

We are so grateful for the dedication and love that our team leaders have for the transformation of our community.


Connie Bateman


Fourth generation DeSoto Countian, UF Grad, and school teacher for 35 years. Not willing to accept current problems with education as “just the way it is”. Where we can't, God can.


Dale Wolgast


Former Executive Director of the Florida Keys Children's Shelter, elementary teacher, and K-12 principal. A desire to do what I can to see young lives changed and families transformed.


Emma Wolgast


Currently studying business advertising at the University of South Florida. Eager to get plugged-in to make a difference in our community.

Next Steps...

Learn more about these 5 simple ways and how to practice them with your child or attend community meetings.