From birth to five, a child’s brain develops more, and more rapidly, than at any other time in life. Yet never before have the needs of young children and their families been more pressing. LA County’s childcare shortages rank near the lowest statewide (only 15% of eligible families are served by state-subsidized child care programs). And even with these numbers, access doesn’t necessarily equal quality.
Despite these shortcomings, a number of educators are shining as community advocates for education, through their hard work in–and out–of the classroom.
Child360, an early learning nonprofit, recently honored the achievements of five outstanding early educators—hailing from communities across LA County—at the annual Early Educator of the Year Awards. Their stories are incredibly inspiring, and the impact of their teachings will stay with their students well into adulthood.
“Research shows that in the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. These outstanding early educators are the brain builders of our children,” said Richard Martinez, Child360 Board Chairman, and Pomona Unified School District Superintendent. “On behalf of Child360, I am proud to award each of these five diverse classroom heroes, who are helping lay the foundation for the future leaders of tomorrow.”
Child360 received over 100 applications for this award, with heartfelt nominations submitted from parents, fellow teachers, and administrators. The award was open to preschool teachers and infant/toddler teachers ranging from family child care centers, school districts, and private and public facilities. This year marks the 11th annual Child360 Early Educator of the Year Awards, with winners hailing from communities across Los Angeles County
This year’s awards recipients are:
· Martha Hernandez, St. Joseph Center, Venice, CA
· Mark Marano, Long Beach City College Child Development Center and Learning Lab, Long Beach, CA
· Veronica Murphy, Marvin Avenue Early Education Center, Los Angeles, CA
· Martha Tapia, Tapia Family Child Care, Glendale, CA
· Sheila Twaddell, Madison Child Development, Pomona, CA
The winners were recognized at a special celebratory luncheon last month June. In addition to the Dr. Celia C. Ayala Early Educator of the Year Award, each winner was awarded a cash stipend through the Elizabeth Lowe / Bob Weekley Award for Excellence in Preschool Teaching endowment, and received an official LA County Proclamation from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to commemorate their work and accomplishments.
Additional honorees at this year’s event include Camille Maben, Executive Director from First 5 California, for her continued support and advocacy of children ages 0-5; and Ashley Hopkinson, Early Education Reporter from EdSource, for her fearless storytelling, fighting for the opportunity for all young children to grow up healthy and ready to succeed.
“At Child360, we believe in a future where every child has the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school and life,” said William Sperling, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Child360. “That future starts with the outstanding early educators of today.”
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