2013 Early Childhood Educator Award Winner Simon Chung

Region Vice President Brian Cuda surprises School-Age teacher Simon Chung with a 2013 KU Early Childhood Educator Award and $10,000.

Region Vice President Brian Cuda surprises School-Age teacher Simon Chung with a 2013 KU Early Childhood Educator Award and $10,000.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for Knowledge Universe

If you’re being passionate about it, I believe you can do a lot more for a room full of kids.
Simon Chung, School-Age teacher and 2013 Knowledge Universe® Early Childhood Educator Award recipient

Simon Chung brings his passion for science to the classroom. A School-Age teacher at Lone Tree Way KinderCare® Learning Center in Antioch, California, Simon finds ways to extend children’s learning in the areas of science and math, and to spark their interest and participation in all curriculums. He even developed a science corner in his room, stocked with resources to encourage experiments and share ideas.

“Look around here, who wouldn’t want to be a part of this environment,” asked Brian Cuda, Region Vice President. “I want to play with two-thirds of the things in here.”

It’s not only Simon’s interests that inspire, he is also praised for creating a child-driven learning environment that allows children to take ownership of creating and carrying out their lesson plans. Simon calls himself a ‘facilitator’ of these lessons, rather than the teacher.

His respect for children was evident during a recent classroom observation. The children in his class are diverse in age, ability, and social skills, and he treats them all with respect and knows how to work with their individual needs, an observer noted. Simon communicates frequently with children, at their level, and with a calm demeanor. The children respond well to him and it is apparent they feel respected and treat him with respect as well.

Simon has been an educator at the Lone Tree Way KinderCare Learning Center for ten years, where he is described as a great team player who builds long-term relationships with families. His daily passion, enthusiasm, and humility serve as an inspiration to his colleagues. District Manager Terry Louwerens pointed to the tangible outcomes that come from this gifted teacher. “In a center that has struggled with enrollment, Mr. Simon’s School-Age program has remained over 75% occupied on a consistent basis,” she said.

“To inspire children to want to continue to learn after they’ve been in school all day takes someone really special,” Terry said. But Simon describes his considerable skill with modesty. “All these kids, and there are hundreds and hundreds of kids that walk through the door, I want them to feel that they can count on someone,” he said.

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