Alabama's Early Learning Champion
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Alabama's Early Learning Champion

 

Today, PBS KIDS named 10 educators as the 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions. Established in 2018, this awards program recognizes committed educators who work with young children, from infants to second graders, and offers a variety of community building, leadership and professional learning opportunities provided by PBS KIDS and member stations.

“Research shows that the first five years of a child’s life are the most critical, setting the stage for lifelong development,” said Sara Schapiro, Vice President, PBS Education. “Early educators play a key role during this important time, but are rarely acknowledged for their incredible contributions. We are honored to recognize their invaluable work through the PBS KIDS Early Leaning Champions program.”

The PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions program, which recognized 17 passionate educators of young children in 2018, includes various early learning caregivers – certified Pre-K, Head Start and early elementary teachers, childcare providers as well as family, friends and neighbors in early learning settings – representing, celebrating and supporting the diverse teaching community impacting young learners. With support from PBS KIDS and local PBS stations, they will explore unique in-person and digital experiences, forge pathways for their own professional growth, build meaningful relationships with peers from across the country, create content and develop and implement their ideas in their communities and classrooms.

“As I entered this program a year ago, I never could have imagined the doors that it would open -- not just in education, but in public speaking in general,” said Roshanna Beard, a 2018 ELC educator from local PBS station WFSU in Tallahassee, Florida . “I wish someone would have told me that this cohort would push me to be a me that I did not know existed. I have had my school district, school and even my own family tell me the importance and impact of my work.” 

This year’s honorees were selected for their passion and commitment to early education and have each demonstrated outstanding impact in supporting the growth and learning of the whole child, strengthening the ecosystem in which children learn and creating unique and innovative teaching experiences. Through the Early Learning Champions program, PBS KIDS aims to create a community that includes professional learning and networking opportunities for educators, while fostering relationships between them and their local PBS stations.

The 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions and their local PBS stations include:

  • Janalyn Maes, Hodgin Elementary School, Albuquerque, New Mexico (NMPBS)
  • Grace Ruddy, Hawthorne Elementary, Boise, Idaho (IdahoPTV)
  • Alexandra Mindler, Wilson Area School District, Easton, Pennsylvania (WLVT)
  • Melissa Cardon, Little Bubbles, Bellevue, Nebraska (NET)
  • Cherika Watford, Harris Early Learning Center, Birmingham, Alabama (APTV)
  • Sarah Saenz, Head Start Kent County, Grand Rapids, Michigan (WGVU)
  • Felicia Gray, Burris Laboratory School, Muncie, Indiana (WIPB)
  • Claudia Robles Arias, BilingualKid Language Immersion School, Mechanicsville, Virginia (WCVE)
  • Kristen Valley, Boone Park Elementary School, North Little Rock, Arkansas (AETN)
  • Dee Liggens, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OETA)

Find out more at PBS.org

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Education Sponsors

IQ Learning Network
  • Alpha Foundation
  • Daniel Foundation of Alabama
  • Hugh Kaul Foundation
  • Monte L. Moorer Foundation
  • Sybil H. Smith Charitable Trust
Learning Adventures
  • Alabama Bicentennial Commission
  • Alabama Humanities Foundation
    A state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Alabama State Council on the Arts
  • American Graduate
    A program of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • The Daniel Foundation of Alabama
  • Jefferson County Cy Pres Fund
  • Malone Family Foundation
  • Robert Meyer Foundation
  • Sybil Smith Foundation
  • The Stephens Foundation
  • Wells Fargo Foundation
e-Learning for Educators/ APT Learn Online
  • Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham
  • U.S. Department of Education
STEM Education Initiative
  • Ann & Alfred F. Delchamps, Jr. Charitable Fund
  • BBVA Compass Bank
  • Beverly and Gary Cooper Charitable Fund
  • Community Foundation of South Alabama
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting
General Educational Support
  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama
  • Honda Manufacturing of Alabama
  • Wells Fargo
PBS Kids Programs
  • Alabama Power
  • Children's of Alabama
  • US Space & Rocket Center
American Graduate
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Southern Education Desk
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting