Jessica Jackson, assistant director at the Brookline Knowledge Beginnings in Mass., earned a trip to the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) annual conference in Dallas last week after earning NAEYC’s 2014 Building a Lasting Legacy Scholarship.
Each year NAEYC awards 10 early childhood educators a Building a Lasting Legacy Scholarship, covering the cost of registration for the annual conference and allowing the recipients the opportunity to attend NAEYC to network with and learn from industry leaders.
“Jessica has demonstrated a commitment and passion for early childhood education,” explained Christina Busch Cleary, center director at the Brookline Knowledge Beginnings. “She is currently in graduate school and though very busy, she never waivers in her commitment to our center…Jessica has a wonderful ability to stay in the moment and keep focused on what is important.”
Jessica currently attends Wheelock College and when she’s not working on her graduate degree, she’s applying what she learned in the classroom to her every day work at the center. She also stays on top of current news and developments in the ECE field, including current educational advocacy and political initiatives – both within Mass. and on a national level. Jessica attended NAEYC once before and found the experience “transformative.” Once she learned about the NAEYC scholarship, she took the initiative to apply, a move that demonstrated firsthand her passion for learning.
“NAEYC is an organization that I respect and value so receiving this scholarship from them is very special,” Jessica said. “I am a huge advocate for children, families, and early education.”
Jessica enjoyed representing her center and KU at the NAEYC conference. She explained that as the assistant director, she went into the conference wanting to learn as much as possible about accreditation and attending sessions on advocacy and policy work.
“Jessica is one of those individuals who has the innate ability to relate to, and understand, both children and adults alike,” said Maureen Mazzola, Jessica’s former center director. “It is only fitting that she be the recipient of this honor, as Jessica has lived and breathed NAEYC for as long as I can remember. I could not be more proud of her and all her accomplishments.”
“I can really sum up my experience at the conference in three words: inspiring, energizing, reaffirming,” Jessica said.
The scholarship winners were awarded on Friday night at a reception in their honor.
“I was in a room with lots of important people and they all stopped what they were doing and clapped for us,” Jessica said. “What an amazing feeling!”
Jessica was moved to take as much back to her staff from the conference as possible. One of the biggest takeaways for her was the emphasis on “talk back,” or what she knows as serve and return.
“I shared with my staff something I learned from the NAEYC Governing Board members: there are almost 5 million births per year in the United States,” Jessica said. “That means that there are approximately 40 million children per year that need early childhood education. It is up to us to provide them with high quality learning experiences–they’re counting on us!”