Today nine Knowledge Universe Educator Award winners took Dallas by storm. In a panel moderated by Dr. Elanna Yalow, the passionate group of teachers spoke at the National Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference about their experiences at KU and how they inspire and nurture children every day .
The group discussed what brought them to teaching, and why they remain teachers.
“It’s all about passion and the engagement with the children,” said Leslie Barr, a Champions teacher from Loveland, Ohio. “It’s about making a child’s life better.”
“My bachelor’s degree is in English, but I found my passion here,” said Lori Rumping, a KinderCare teacher from Ballwin, Missouri. “KU has an amazing support and training system.”
When asked how the teachers build lasting and trusting relationships with families, most chalked it up to communication and making an effort to connect with them frequently.
“I invite parents in to the classroom to share with the class, and I reassure them that I’m taking care of their children just as I would take care of my own,” said Lori. “Let them see how their child learns each day.”
All nine teachers agreed that receiving the award was a humbling experience.
“Winning this award is amazing–it’s amazing to be recognized for your passion,” said Veronica Brenes, a CCLC teacher in Los Angeles, California. “It goes a long way.”
“I can’t tell you what being a part of this family means to me,” said Mary Annthipie-Bane, a KinderCare teacher in Belford, New Jersey. “I’ve learned so much from these people. This award has impacted my whole family, and makes me want to be the best version of myself.”
“This award has really made me see what professionalism is” said Tra’Shell Reese, a 2013 award winner and CCLC teacher from Palo Alto, California.
“I feel validated for all the hard work our center does,” said Laura DeBouchel, a KinderCare teacher from Frederick, Maryland. “Anyone in my center could have gotten this–they’re all so great!”
“I never saw myself as a teacher, just someone my kids loved,” said Stephanie Leath, a KinderCare teacher from Fort Worth, Texas. “Someone came into my room and saw me not how I see myself, but how my kids see me.”
Educator Award winners are selected based on their exemplary interaction with children, engagement with families, and implementation of curriculum, among other criteria.
“I have fun with the children all day long, and that’s why I won this award,” said Tawyna Starks, a KinderCare teacher in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. “You have to go into the classroom with the mindset that you are a child. If I want to see smiles, then I have to smile. I love going to work because it’s always fun.”
“The excitement I have for my kids never, never changes,” said Julieta Villarey, a KinderCare teacher from Ponte Vedra, Florida. “My award every day is the children–I learn from them every single day.”