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2007 Teacher Awards Recipients

National Child Care Teacher Awards™

2007 Recipient Bios and Project Descriptions

Tonya Davidson
Chapman Child Learning Center at St. John's Health Systems Tulsa, Oklahoma
I am married with 2 children, a son age 3, and a daughter age 1. I have a stepdaughter age 12. I enjoy spending time with my family. My other interests include outside activities such as camping, fishing, and boating. I grew up in the country and love country life.
“Cooking and Technology”
My project will allow me to create a cooking center in my classroom that will allow children to create and cook healthy snacks and meals. Families will be invited to share in our learning experiences. A digital camera and color printer/scanner will provide picture documentation for parents and visitor to see the learning that takes place daily while providing opportunity for children to revisit past experiences.


Rochelle Richardson
Greenfields West Child Development Mobile, Alabama
I am a native of Mobile, Alabama. I am married to Thomas K. Richardson III, also a Mobile native. I have 2 daughters, Michelle, who works in electronics; and Barbette, who will earn her teaching degree this spring. I have a grandson, Lenjamin Cory, age 7. I have more than 20 years experience working in licensed child care, primarily with preschool age children. I am the assistant director at Green Fields West Child Development Center in Mobile and teache 4-K at the Center. I have earned many hours of professional early child care and education training and am working to receive my Child Development Credential later this year. Outside of my work with children, I am a member of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church where I sings in the choir and teache children’s religious education. I am also an accomplished seamstress and enjoys making “special occasion” children’s clothing.
“Nature's Circle of Life”
My project was inspired my classroom children's facination with the fall color of the trees, a first for many of them! Hurricane Ivan (September, 2004) followed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, had destroyed many trees in the area and stripped the leaves of those left standing, making this fall the first time children had seen leaves turn with the beauty of fall colors. My project will enhance the science and nature sturdy area in my classroom, extending it to include a small patio outside. In addition to nature study, the project is intended to support children’s emotional growth, inspiring them to understand that even when really bad things happen, life can renew itself and can be strong and beautiful. Just like the trees recovering from the hurricanes.


Reina Medrano
Small World Preschool Fresno, California
I live in Fresno, Ca. I come from a small family of two. I was born and raised in Honduras, Central America and I came to the States when I was 14 years old. In 1995, I graduated from Sanger High School. Since then, I always had a passion for teaching. I decided to continue my studies. I’m still working towards my major. I have been teaching for six years and I want to tell you that I still have the same passion since I started. I enjoy every single day teaching at small world.
“Growing Up in Cultural Diversity”
The title of my project is Small World Preschool’s “Growing Up in Cultural Diversity” based on the importance of acknowledging a multicultural environment. My purpose was to enhance our program by adding more materials and tools so that it would help us to learn more about our different cultures, traditions, and customs. Also it will also help us learn and understand our roots and value ourselves.

Tamara Thompson
Orfalea Family Children's Center Santa Barbara, California
I have been working in the field of early childhood for the past twenty years. I am a mother to two beautiful daughters a fifteen year old and a nineteen year old. I am currently employed at a NAEYC accredited school, the Orfalea Family Children’s Center at UCSB. I have been a lead teacher there for eight years in a classroom of three to five year olds. I am also a California Early Childhood mentor teacher and have completed an internship through CAEYC’s Nonviolence in the Lives of Children Project.
“Peace Garden”
My vision is to create a Peace Garden directly outside the back door of our classroom. This space would provide an extension of our indoor environment and allow children a respite for rejuvenation amid the daily bustle of the classroom. The Peace Garden will not only provide a space of beauty that everyone at our center will benefit from, but it will also be a place of learning where children can observe nature in a quiet setting and develop and an appreciation and care for their environment.


Marisol Rodriguez
Apple Tree Children's Center Hamden, Connecticut
I have been the Pre-Kindergarten teacher for five years at Apple Tree Children’s Center. I recently received my CDAE and I will be working towards my Associates degree. I enjoy my work with children because they truly make my day shine. To observe their perseverance as they face the challenges they go through to achieve their goals. We all have a future in this field only if we are willing to learn more, whether through classes, other teachers, or learning from the children.

“Caring for all of Me”
I have put together a proposal called “Caring for all of Me”. In my classroom we work on getting prepared for Kindergarten with traditional academic readiness as well as self awareness. The materials I have chosen will help teach children how to keep healthy. This includes learning about why we need to restore sleep and the importance of exercising and eating healthy. Some materials will also be about inside our human body a more concrete and enriching experience. We model good hygiene and adding materials will reinforce what the children see and will increase their awareness.


Tammy Shrader
DBCC Child Development Lab School Daytona Beach, Florida
I have been married for 11 years. My career began in Early Child Dev. in 1990. I received my CDA in 1994. My application was accepted at Child Care Resource Network and I was fortunate to be placed at DBCC Lab School. With the continued support of my co-workers and my supervisor our children and families are given quality child care. It is my pleasure to empower every child to succeed to his or her fullest potential. I feel honored to receive the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation National Child Care Teacher Award(tm) sponsored by the makers of Children’s TYLENOL(R).
“Seeing Children and Nature Bloom”
Seeing Children and Nature Bloom gives the children the opportunity to explore and understand the cycle of life. The children will plant seeds and participate in the management of the butterfly lab and the garden. I will take pictures of them as we record the growth of plants and butterflies. I will use these pictures in a scrap book to document the progress of each child as they grow and bloom with nature.


Shirley Bloom
Busy Kids Home Day Care Matoon, Illinois
I own and operate Busy Kids Home Day Care. I have a wonderful husband John, our terrific son Josh is 21. I have been doing this for 14 years, before having a home day care I worked in a center. In college I studied early childhood and business. The small group setting has given me the opportunity to build long term bonds with children and their families; I get to see the children learn while they build stepping stones into their future.
“We are the Same, We are Different”
I will be helping to educate our youth in cultural diversity and special needs at a young age through everyday activities they love to do. I will add multi-ethnic dolls with inclusion equipment in the dramatic play area. I will use multi-ethnic ceremonial costumes for use during music time. I will also add eight anti-bias books to our book collection.


Darci Cronin
Apple Tree Children's Center Clive, Iowa
Since I began my career with Apple Tree Children’s Center, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with our group of infants and toddlers. Although I did not believe that this is the direction that my career would go ( I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communications), I must say that I am completely fulfilled and proud of the fact that I am influencing these little people's lives on a daily basis. I enjoy nurturing the group of infants that I care for and exploring their world with them. In my spare time I enjoy the company of a good book and learning new things. I am also very close to my family and spend as much time with them as I can. After working with the children during the week, I love to travel to see my friends and family for the weekend.
“Encouraging and Documenting Developmental Growth Through Pictures”
Technology was the basis of my project. With the use of a digital camera, I plan to more accurately capture and document the developmental growth of the infants in my room. In addition to using the camera for documenting developmental progress, the camera will allow us to keep updated pictures of the class on the walls for the infants to view. Finally, each infant will have a family photo album that we will fill with pictures of their own family members so they can begin to connect names to the important people in their lives.

Janet Everts
Tri-County Family and Child Development Council, Inc Waterloo, Iowa
I have been in the early care and education field for 28 years. I was a family child care provider for 18 years. Then I became a center director at a private school for seven years. I am now in my fourth year as an assistant teacher in an early head start classroom. I’ve been married to my husband Jeff for 30 years. We have three children and two grandchildren.
“Color My World”
My project is called “Color My World”. I plan to immerse the classroom environment with many colorful activities. The goal is for the children to learn their colors while having fun with music, games, books, math, and art materials. The activities will increase the children’s language, fine and gross motor, social, emotional, cognitive, and auditory development.

Brandy Melton
Apple Tree Children's Center Norwalk, Iowa
I grew up in Lamoni, a small town in Southern Iowa. After high school I continued my education at Graceland University the local college. There I received my BA Degree in Elementary Education. From college I moved to Norwalk where I found a job working at Apple Tree Children’s Center in their four and five year old preschool program.
“Exploration Station”
Our project focuses on two areas of scientific discovery, the human body and the world of water. Students will learn about the human body and its different functions through photographic books and a hands on model of the inner body. The World of Water covers areas from ocean life to the study of why objects sink or float.

Joanne Ticknor
Apple Tree Children's Center Urbandale, Iowa
I have dedicated the last 20 years of my life to education, both my own and to the children in my care. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Iowa State University. I taught children ranging in ages from infant to high school. I have spent the last 11 years teaching at Apple Tree Children’s Center where I am currently the Lead Transition Teacher working with our two year olds. What I love most is watching my group grow from toddlers as they start with me to being successful preschoolers as they leave for the next classroom.
“Mobile Learning Center”
My project is a Mobile Learning Center for use with the outdoor playground and indoor gross motor area. My intention is to be able to extend my classroom’s centers by using a rolling cart and activity tubs, so our activities can go anywhere we go. The tubs will include items the children can do individually and in small or large groups. I will also use a CD/tape player so our classroom can take music and dance wherever we go. My goal is to be able to meet individual children’s interests and help them develop a sense of independence.


Selena Perry
Barksdale AFB Child Development Center Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
I am married and have four children and two grandchildren. I have been an early childhood development teacher for over 28 years. I am currently teaching 6 to 12 month old infants, and provide a safe and nurturing environment for them. The most rewarding part of my job is making a difference in the lives of families. I am a board member of the Louisiana Early Childhood Association. I have an Associate of General Studies Degree with a concentration in Humanities and my CDA Credential. I plan to pursuit my Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education in the fall.
“Early Literacy is Fun”
My project "Early Literacy is Fun" fosters infant's verbal and nonverbal skills of communication by providing language development through sensory experiences that stimulate the brain and later increase the infant's spoken language and vocabulary. Infants learn through their senses and the textured feely books with their bright colored pictures and tactile surfaces will promote sensory awareness. I will use the baby sign language books to reinforce the sign language development the infants are already learning. These books not only provide a wonderful avenue for the infant's language but also their physical, cognitive, social, and affective development.


Bridgette Grab Lawrence
Little Scooters Childcare California, Maryland
I have worked in the field of early childhood education for the past 22 year, first as an elementary/primary grade teacher and currently as a childcare provider. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., I relocated to Southern Maryland to pursue a teaching career after earning a BS degree in Elementary Education from Duquesne University in 1988. During my years as teacher and childcare provider, I worked to complete my master's degree and become NAFCC accredited (both in 2003). My husband Scott and I have 5 children and 3 grandchildren and we enjoy spending time with family and friends. I LOVE my job and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with wonderful children and parents on a daily basis.
“Friendship Garden”
Our childcare program has developed a close relationship with the residents of our local nursing home in Southern Maryland. We visit several times a year to deliver small craft projects and gifts and to sing songs or share poems and fingerplays. We designed a “Friendship Garden” plan to use our interest and knowledge in planting and gardening to further connect with our elderly friends. We will plant a garden at the nursing home where children and residents can visit together, read a book and enjoy the outdoor beauty of a colorful flower garden.


Kim Orseske
The Kidzcare Center Delton, Michigan
I enjoy working with children because no two days are the same. I like being outdoors camping, fishing, and just enjoying sunshine! My job as a childcare teacher allows me to incorporate all my likes and share my experiences with others. In my personal life, I like spending time with my dog, Tasha, and my two cats, Andy and Jillie.
“Teaching Outdoors”
I'm looking forward to beginning and implementing my outdoor project! It will be great planting with the children and watching the birds come to visit our feeders and houses. My outdoor "classroom" will help me extend science lessons and provide a nice area for outdoor reading and outdoor art projects. I am very excited about receiving the award and making my project a reality.

Joanne duBois Sweedyk
Joanne's Tot Stop Grand Rapids, Michigan
I have been providing quality in-home child care for 19 ½ years. I have been married 27 years and have three adult sons. Since 1988, I have been involved in the local Family Child Care Association, serving as Newsletter Editor, Secretary, and President. In 2000, I received the Governor’s Quality Care Award, and have been NAFCC Accredited since 2002. In 2006, I obtained an Associates in Arts in Childhood Development in order to enhance my experience, and I am currently attending WMU to obtain my Bachelors in Family Studies with Child Development emphasis. Children are special, important individuals to be valued and encouraged to be all they can be.
“Supporting Infant's Social and Physical Development”
By creating an environment enriched with soft, durable mats, climbing pieces, and blocks, my infant’s and toddler’s physical and social development will be supported. This new equipment will aid the children in developmental areas such as rolling, sitting, crawling, climbing, and balancing, as well as peer interactions. My encouraging words will guide them into trying new movements. It will be “their” colorful, safe space, giving them pride in their accomplishments.


Julie Kauffman
Ladybug Child Care Center Chaska, Minnesota
My part time high school job has turned in a job I truly love. I have been in the child care field for ten years. For the past eight, I have been employed at Ladybug Child Care Center in Chaska, MN. I am a toddler teacher and a department manager. I have found that I am a more complete person for being around children.
“Soaring with Science”
My project is titled, “Soaring with Science.” I will be purchasing additional learning materials to enhance our science center. I will be incorporating an Explore and Learn table into my classroom. This piece offers a variety of exploration for several children to use at a time. I will also purchase a science photo library, a human x-ray print set and a growing plant project. I have found that children are full of questions and ideas about the world around them. I am excited to help give them more experiences through these science resources.

Margaret Mahowald
Calvary Childcare Center Golden Valley, Minnesota
I have been teaching in the Early Childhood field for six years. Calvary Childcare Center in golden Valley has been my teaching home for the past five years. I earned my Early Childhood degree from North Dakota State University in 2001. I am thankful for my supportive family, gifted co-workers, wonderful families I serve, and the delightful children I have the privilege to teach. Early Childhood Education is my passion and I look forward to many more great years in the field providing high quality care and education.
“Beyond the Storybook”
My project, Beyond the Storybook, will give me the ability to provide extensions to many of the favorite books read in our classroom. I will purchase puppets, storytelling kits, puzzles, games, and art supplies that can be incorporated into author/illustrator studies, which currently exist in our curriculum. Every item will benefit children at all developmental levels, as well as support all types of learners. I look forward to children using the props, retelling stories, drawing, creating, and bringing the stories to life.


Linda Vandepopuliere
Westside Child Development Columbia, Missouri
A native Missourian, I received my BS Ed from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1986. Since then, I have worked with young children in a variety of settings in several other states and in England. Currently I reside in Columbia, Missouri, where my partner Anastasia and I have a thriving family child care. We are also the very proud moms of Joseph, 7, and Isaac, 2.
“Catch the Beat”
I am very excited to use this award to expand and enhance our outdoor music area. Among other things, we will be adding a large PVC pipe percussion instrument, an outdoor xylophone, an instrument that imitates the tinkling sound of rain and several large refuse can drums (a la STOMP). These instruments are easily used by all the children we serve regardless of age or ability. The children will be able to use their brains and bodies in a big way during their musical explorations.

New Hampshire

Debra Barach
Kidworks Learning Center Meredith, New Hampshire
I am a mother of two girls (5) and (1) and have been working with children at Kidworks Learning Center for the last 4 1/2 years. I have always been passionate about children, and feel like I learn more from them than I could ever teach. It is a joy to work in the field of early childhood education, and it is my goal to be not only the best mom I can be, but a positive influence in the lives of all children.
“Quiet Corner Enhancements”
It is my goal to provide a comfortable quiet area that the children can relax in. I plan to purchase an area rug, throw pillows and a toddler-sized couch for our book corner so they can enjoy books in a cozy atmosphere. I also intend to purchase a wooden table and chair set for our puzzle/manipulative are. It is my hope to create a comforting space where children can escape the activity in the room.

New Jersey

Jessica Sollien
Ivy Hill Preschool Rumson, New Jersey
I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Georgian Court College in Lakewood, NJ and became s State Certified Teacher. I have been the pre-K teacher at Ivy Hill Preschool in Rumson for the past six years. Mid-career I took a sabbatical to live in Sweden, my husband’s native country; it was there I became aware of environmental issues. My experience has encouraged me to teach about ecological awareness. During off hours my husband and I enjoy hiking, climbing, skiing, and paragliding.
“Let us develop respect for all living things. Let us try to replace violence and intolerance with understanding compassion, and love.” - Dr. Jane Goodall. The Enviro-Kids project is designed to teach responsibility for one’s own actions, compassion for others, and an awareness of the world around us. Students will learn a hands-on approach to recycling through the use of varied trash bins, while the worm composter will teach them what to do with the organic matter. A puppet theater will be used to act out environmental issues and reinforce skills.

New York

Tina Caldwell
YMCA/Here We Grow Child Care Center Cortland, New York
Married for 30 years in July 2007- Larry (husband). Mother of two grown children-Jennifer age 29 and Christopher age 22. I worked in childcare for 12 years at Here We Grow Child Care Center. I have been a bowling coach for 23 years-working with children ages 3 yrs to 21 yrs of age.
“Enriching Children's Gross Motor Skills”
My project is entitled “Enriching Children’s Gross Motor Skills”. I am purchasing equipment to develop specific movements related to motion, movement, rhythm and dance. These activities will help promote social interaction, fun and communication with the children.

Debra Cashion
Computer Associates Child Development Center, Inc. Islandia, New York
I received my Associates Degree from Suffolk Community College in Early Childhood Education. After receiving my Associates Degree I attended St. Joseph’s College; where I received a BS in education, Pre K-6th grade and a BS in Special Education, ages 0-12. After working as a permanent substitute teacher for two years I went to work for CA Montessori Children’s Center where I received my American Montessori International (AMI) Certification. I earned a Master of Education Degree with a concentration in Montessori from Loyola College. I have worked with the CA Montessori Children’s Center for the past seven years as a Managing Teacher in a Children’s Community Classroom.
“Multicultural Expansion”
I am a Managing Teacher in a classroom with many children whose parents are from different countries. I would like to purchase more multicultural books for my book corner. In my language area, I would like to have more materials from all around the world. During the language lessons the children would have the opportunity to touch and discuss the multicultural resources. I intend to have the children sit at a large community table to sample foods from around the world supplied by their parents.

Judith Corino
Canandaigua Early Childhood Center Canandaigua, New York
I am 42 years old. I have been working with preschoolers for 16 yrs. I have two children and will become a grandma for the first time in May. I love my job, I enjoy children. I have an alpaca farm with 15 alpacas.
“Listening Area”
I will purchase a listening center for the classroom. It will contain a CD/Cassette/Recorder with eight headphones. The center will also have several games, music and books on tape that children love. To make the center a relaxing place I plan on purchasing bean bags to lounge around on. The children will greatly benefit from this award.

Rose McCabe
Rosebud's Child Care and Learning Center Apalachin, New York
As an in-home group day care provider for the past 11 1/2 years, I have received the 2005 Day Care Provider of the Year Award, 2006 Star Early childhood Educator Award as well as being the Public Policy Chairperson for the Binghamton Association for the Education of Young Children. I am also enrolled at Broome Community College’s Early Childhood Education Program. My passion for my work has brought me success, and my professionalism has brought me respect. I offer high-quality care for infants through age five including working with infants and offering a toddler and pre-school curriculum. I gain respect from all those that meet me because of my knowledge, professionalism and honesty, down-to-earth, enthusiastic personality. I believe that when my young students are successful, I am successful.
“The Gourmet Play Project”
Dramatic play can incorporate so many opportunities to learn while having fun. “The Gourmet Play Project” that I have created will offer my day care children the chance to learn about themselves, others and the environment in which they live. A kitchen set with all the accessories, such as multicultural foods and books, will encourage an understanding and acceptance of the similarities and differences among people in our community. The counting, shape sorting and color food sets will inspire practice in shape/color recognition, one to one correspondence, counting’/number recognition and allow me to incorporate healthy food choices, dental health and cleanliness. By using the cash register, we can play “restaurant’, which will teach cooperation, sharing, turn taking and increase the children’s pro-social skills.

North Carolina

Jennifer Anderson
GTCC Children's Center Jamestown, North Carolina
I have been working with young children for more than 12 years. I graduated from UNC Charlotte, NC in 1998 with a BS in Child and Family Development and my B-K license. I currently work at GTCC Children’s Center in the 2-year-old classroom and have been here for five years. I love helping children expand their cognitive and language skills, and to help them be successful with potty training. It’s not the terrible twos; it’s the TERRIFIC TWOS!
“Books that Bind Relationships”
The project I created has three different goals. The first is to purchase a book binding machine and materials to create books to be used by the entire center staff. The second is for my classroom to make several books that are related to our classroom themes. The third is to enhance interaction between the parents and their children by giving each family a book each month to keep.

Maggi Bailey
The Irene Wortham Early Learning Center Asheville, North Carolina
I live in my hometown of Asheville, NC. I have a close knit family and we enjoy spending time with each other. My husband and I share our home with “fur kids”, five dogs and five cats. I love being a teacher and have been doing it for more than 10 years. I am an artist and enjoy painting with oils, reading suspense novels, and watching movies.
“Story Box”
My project is a Story Box. The boxes will become part of the Children’s Literacy Initiative, which stresses reading higher level words to young children to directly influence their educational success. The Story Box contains a children’s book, lesson plans for each center, costumes, musical instruments, puzzles, and other educational activities related to the book. Children will experience and imagine things and places outside their environment. The boxes will help them discover that books have a vast amount to offer their lives.

Kathy Hasty
Shepherd's Way Day School Asheboro, North Carolina
I am a life long resident of Randolph County. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UNC-Greensboro. I am currently working on my Early Childhood Education degree. I have worked in the Early Childhood Education field for fourteen years and currently work as a teacher in the two-year's classroom at Shepherd’s Way Day School in Asheboro.
“Nature Sanctuary”
My project is to develop a nature sanctuary at Shepherd’s Way Day School. This special place will offer a safe haven for wildlife and a peaceful retreat for children and staff. From growing plants and trees to feeding birds and butterflies from sundials to stepping stones, this sanctuary will help all at SWDS to develop a healthy sense of worth and a respect for the environment.

Patricia Sloan
First Baptist Church Child Shelby, North Carolina
I live in Shelby, NC. I have also lived in Vancouver, WA. I have one daughter, two son, and two granddaughters. My daughter is expecting my first grandson in May. I have worked as an early childhood teacher for 12 years both here in Shelby, NC and Vancouver, WA.
“Poetry Appreciation for Preschoolers”
The project I have chosen to enhance is where Preschoolers are introduced to poetry. The children will write and illustrate an original poem to be bound into books. Each child will be recognized at a special ceremony and will be presented with a copy of their very own book of poems.


Theresa Roehrig
Stepping Stones Center Pre-School Program Cincinnati, Ohio
I have spent the past seven years as a teaching assistant in the early intervention pre-school program at Stepping Stones. I am a graduate of Wright State University with a BA degree. My interest in disabled children's development stemmed from a previous experience working with multi handicapped students in a school setting. I am also disabled. I was born with spina bifida and am a paraplegic. My mobility is with long leg braces and a walker or wheelchair. When I applied for a volunteer position at Stepping Stones Center I was already familiar with the center as I had attended summer programs there as a child. The associate director who interviewd me remembers "it soon became apparent that this gifted and courageous person would bring an added dimension of skillful creativity to the pre-school" and hired me as an employee. I have been told I "embody" the meaning of teacher. I recently received the employee of the year award....exemplifying outstanding dedication, sensitivity, and passion for the mission of Stepping Stones Center along with a commitment to and belief in persons with a disability. I feel blessed to has found a "calling" that utilizes my talents. I have "Wealth beyond measure" with good friends, a caring family and a strong faith. I have traveled abroad and is currently taking lessons to learn the German language. Albert Schweitzer said "One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength that can overcome adversity." I am indeed a person of strength and intuitive wisdom.
“Pre-School Computer Station”
My project will introduce a quiet corner to the classroom featuring an integrated touch screen monitor and educational software to assist in the recognition of numbers, letters, shapes and even basic reading skills. A number of special needs children currently enrolled use similar technology to communicate, so the transition for these students will present less of a challenge. Cognitive skill development will be better served. The students enrolled in the preschool program will benefit from this new technology and the transition to kindergarten for many will be much easier.

Andrea Sanford
Toledo Day Nursery Toledo, Ohio
I’m currently living in Toledo, Ohio. I been here for five years. I’m originally from Peoria, Illinois. I have three beautiful children. I’m currently working on a BA in Business Administration. I received my Early Childhood Associate Degree from Illinois Central College in 1999. I have been in the field for 15 years. I started liking Early Childhood at a young age. My children attended the Head Start Program. I enjoyed being a part of their younger school years. So with the encouragement of my mentors I decided to pursue a career in the Early Childhood field.
“My Creative Writing Book”
My project title is My Creative Literacy Book. It consists of a Child Craft portfolio storage center, notebook binders, pencils, labels, and clear back packs. Three hold punch paper. This project would be placed in the writing center. The storage center will be labeled with each child name. They will be able to get their own note book binder and practice writing their name, numbers, or whatever they want. I would write some practice letters, numbers, shapes etc. so they can see an example. I would observe their progress. I would put a date on it, collect it and use their portfolio to show their parents at conference time. This is a good way to promote literacy and language.


Tonya Davidson
Chapman Child Learning Center at St. John's Health Systems Tulsa, Oklahoma
I am married with 2 children, a son age 3, and a daughter age 1. I have a stepdaughter age 12. I enjoy spending time with my family. My other interests include outside activities such as camping, fishing, and boating. I grew up in the country and love country life.
“Cooking and Technology”
My project will allow me to create a cooking center in my classroom that will allow children to create and cook healthy snacks and meals. Families will be invited to share in our learning experiences. A digital camera and color printer/scanner will provide picture documentation for parents and visitor to see the learning that takes place daily while providing opportunity for children to revisit past experiences.


Susan Alvarado
The Children's Center of CACCC, Inc. Enola, Pennsylvania
My name is Susan Alvarado and I am the mother of 3 children who keep me very busy. At the Center, I care for five active toddlers. I love my job and my position, it is very rewarding. I got started in child care in 1988. I enrolled in the CDA program in 2006 and am awaiting assessment at this time. In my spare time I read, check and send email, do planting, and crossword puzzles.
“Tiny Toddlers”
I plan to use the award money to enhance our toddler playground. I am very proud to have been blessed with the opportunity to be able to purchase some items to increase out activities outdoors. With the use of a storage shed our play items can be stored out of the weather. It will also encourage our young toddlers to clean up when done playing. This is a skill that I have introduced as part of my curriculum.

Heather Cohen
Paley Early Learning Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
My name is Heather Cohen, and I am a Board Certified Teacher. I graduated college Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 grade point average and Education Honors. Throughout the year, I have worked with children ages four to eleven and children with special needs such as autism and behavioral problems. I not only want to educate our future generations, but I want to instill in them a love for learning. This desire and thirst for learning will help my students reach the stars.
“Alphabet Alley”
Alphabet Alley is an interactive, hands-on early literacy learning center that will help reinforce letter identification and letter sounds, as well as emergent literacy. The children will be actively engaged in activities that include music, language, sensory, movement, problem solving, and cooking. These activities will not only help the children learn the alphabet, but will give them a sense of pride. I feel that learning involves more than just recognizing and memorizing letters and sounds. By using Alphabet Alley center activities to expose children to letters, the alphabet will come to life!

Tricia Conver
West Point Child Learning Center Lansdale, Pennsylvania
I currently live in Telford, Pa with my husband, Brian and our 3 year old daughter, Madelynn. All my life I have worked with children. I am inspired by their eagerness to learn and their natural curiosity. I have worked at the West Point Child Learning Center as a preschool teacher since 1999. WPCTC is a NAEYC accredited, Bright Horizons Center that is located on the Merck campus.
“Parent Partnership Resource Library”
I am developing a parent partnership resource library that will be dedicated to promoting self-esteem and social emotional growth. In today’s world, coping skills and a positive sense of self are more important then ever. The library will offer parents resources and books that will guide them in helping thir children achieve these goals as well as offer support during times of need. I am also including children’s books, puppets and games that will encourage the children to express their emotions in pro-social and imaginative ways.

Amy Goding
The Children's Center of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I’m 28 years old and have lived in Pittsburgh for the past five years. I received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education from Malone College. For four years I’ve been the lead teacher in my room. Recently, I took on the responsibility of scheduling for the toddler room. My future plan is attaining my master's.
“Science in Dramatic Play”
I’m incorporating botany, chemistry, and archeology into the dramatic play area. The children will explore and uncover many treasures as they dig for bones. They will be elbow deep in dirt as they plant gardens and classify leaves. Finally, the children will put on lab coats and discover density through liquid mixtures.

Allison Hynes
McNeil Child Development Center Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
I come from a family of teachers. My grandmother was a teacher for the blind, and my mother was an elementary school teacher. Growing up and hearing the stories of their teaching days, I always knew that I wanted to follow the family tradition and work with children as well. For the past six and a half years, I have taught in a Pre-K/Kindergarten class at the Bright Horizon’s McNeil Child Development Center. Working with young children has many rewards, but for myself the greatest reward is being a part of the fun that children can have when experiencing new things about the world, others, and themselves.
“Science Explorations”
In our classroom, it is a common occurence to see a group of children wearing goggles while exploring reactive substances or having a magnifying glass in hand while examining natural materials. In our “Science Explorations” project, we will incorporate more chemistry, geology, biology, astronomy, and meteorology through measuring tools, microscopes, thermometers, animal habitats, and science kits. With science journals for every child, they will document the use of the scientific method from their prediction, experiments, observations, and conclusions. Through various hands-on experiences, the children will learn new skills as well as enjoy the many wonders of the world in which we live.

Eileen Jimenez
Caring People Alliance @ R. W. Brown Community Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
As a mother for 40 years an a childcare provider for 35 years, I still enjoy all my little ones. I've gone from classroom mother volunteer at Lighthouse Nursery school to lead teacher at R. W. Brown Daycare. I've gained valuable insight by attending Temple University's Child Car Development Coop Program, which allowed me to do what I enjoyed as I made a living. The youngest child under my care was a 16 day old and I have taught up to kindergarten. I have participated in numerous workshops over the years and feel that there is always more to learn, there's always more to share, there's always more to care.
“Victory Garden”
The Victory Garden project I propse will introduce older toddler children to plant life and vegetation. I plan to grow flowers, vegetables, and herbs with the children. This project will provide an opportunity for the children to see how plants and vegetables grow from seeds to full-gown plants. During the growth process, I plan to involve parents, grandparents and/or guardians in the gardening experience. Gardening will foster a deeper appreciation of life for all involved.

Anita Lieberman
Learning & Development Program of Germantown Jewish Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I have been a preschool teacher for close to 30 years. I have been married for 38 years. I have two daughters who are married and also are teachers. I have four beautiful grandchildren. I have been at the Learning and Development Center of Germantown Jewish Centre for the past five years. My hobbies include reading, photography, knitting, and needlework.
“Through the Minds of a Child-Early Literacy Combined with
Electronic Documentation-Digital Camera & Writing”

My proposal is for a digital camera and printer. I would like to have the children in the class use the camera to document what they have created. I feel that by doing this they will not only be pursuing their creativity and imagination, but they will also be able to use their literary skills as they tell others about the pictures they have taken. I would also like to have them write about what they are photographing.

Roxanne Locicero
Tender Care Learning Center Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I have been with Tender Care for three years and I work with the young toddlers. I have been working with children for 24 years.
“Literacy Interactions”
I’m going to design a literacy program for my toddlers. These children are just starting to express themselves verbally. I get excited watching my children enjoy books and form new words. This program would encourage their excitement and further their learning.

Christina Lynch
The Children's Center at Dock Woods/SMCA Lansdale, Pennsylvania
In spring 2003 I graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education. I was overwhelmed with the world after college and decide to move back to my hometown and let the job search begin. By the summer of 2003 I was offered a job as a head teacher for the three year old classroom, and I have been there ever since. I am continuously challenged by the children, who probably teach me more than I teach them. We are always learning, exploring and playing together in a safe home away from home environment. I look forward to a lifetime of learning with children.
“Integrating Computers into the Classroom”
The purpose of my project is to enhance the computer center in the classroom. A new desk will be constructed and two new chairs will be purchased. Attention to ergonomics will ensure the children can use the computer area comfortably and efficiently. A classroom All-in-One printer will also be purchased to help document the children’s developmental progress and to document daily activities for parent to view. The addition of the ergonomically correct desk, chairs and printer will allow the children to integrate the computer learning center into the Early Childhood Classroom with positive growth.

Sandra Jo McConnell
Tender Care Learning Center Wexford, Pennsylvania
My family moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2001. We are originally from the St. Louis area where I taught in the public school system in Missouri in the areas of Reading Development and Learning Disabilities. I have worked at Tender Care Learning Center the Infant Program for more than five years and found that infants come to us with three basic needs, to learn, to be nurtured and to be respected as individuals.
“Reading: Learning to Love It”
I formed my grant project proposal around the idea of a reading-lending library in our room. We will lend out chubby books from our notable collections to be read at home, and then ask families to lend us their child’s favorite books. This will promote language and cultural diversity in an easy, informal manner. We will purchase new books, a cozy rug, couches, cushions for a reading nook. I look at this as a fantastic way to promote a lifelong love of reading. As a Master Teacher and Training Director of the center, I relate my beliefs to the importance of reading on a daily basis at school and at home. I do this with articles in our weekly and monthly newsletters. I also provide the pamphlet A Child Becomes A Reader from the National Institute for Literacy for all of our new families in the room. When children pass our lunch room they see me reading the newspaper each day. I am a firm believer that reading promotes imagination and the use of imagination promotes learning and living to our potential.

Kathryn McCorry
Ken-Crest Services/Kensington Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I have been teaching for 25 years within Ken-Crest Services, 17 for those years in the classroom, 8 years as home-based teacher. Inspiration came from my brother who attended Ken-Crest and from my own child watching him grow and learn. I was very involved in his education working along side his teachers, learning and sharing from each other. I am a single mom; my son William is now 18 years old. We live in the Philadelphia area; I attended Little Flower High School, Community College, and Temple University, and have a degree in Special Ed.
“Learning Through Movement”
The purpose is to expand and enrich children’s interest in order to enhance the participation and life long learning opportunities for the children and their families. I would like to continue to develop and carry out more comprehensive movement through music and provide the students with fun and effective easy to partner with peers, inspire imagination, develop new vocabulary, problem solve, build strength and endurance and gain greater control over large and small muscles as well as enhance self confidence. To see the final outcome of this project brings both my students and their families together within the classroom and at home.

Colleen McGranaghan
End of the Rainbow Day Care Red Lion, Pennsylvania
I moved to Dallastown, Pa with my family in June 1995. I have worked at End of the Rainbow Day Care since September 1995. I am currently attending Penn State University, York Pa; I am in the CDA (Child Development Associate) class. I am also a member of NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
“Enhancing Dramatic Play”
My project is to enhance our dramatic play area. We will purchase a butcher block table and chair set, dress up clothing and storage center with a mirror, play food, pots, pans, and dishes. Enhancing our dramatic play area will allow the children to explore, create and expand their imagination. The children will also be able to develop their social skills as well as their self-esteem.

Niana Milburn
Kehillah Early Learning Center Wallingford, Pennsylvania
I’m a 28 year old preschool teacher and the mother of a 7 month old baby boy. For the last six years I have had the opportunity to work at Kehillah Early Learning Center. It’s been a wonderful six years filled with laughter, learning, and lots of fun. I enjoy everyday I spend with the children at Kehillah and hope to have many more wonderful days.
“Multicultural Mobile Center”
My project is a “Multi-Cultural Mobile Center”. This center will contain all kinds of dress-up clothes, puppets, music, instruments, books, and puzzles from different cultures. These things with help the teachers in my center incorporate more multi-cultural activities in their daily routine. It will also introduce the children to how other people live, learn, and play. And for some it will help them feel more comfortable about their culture.

Heather Miller
York Jewish Community Center Child Care York, Pennsylvania
I volunteered with the fours and fives preschool program at the York Jewish Community Center in 1991 and discovered that I loved working with young children. While finishing my BA degree in Elementary Education at Penn State University, I continued volunteering and working summers for the Early Childhood program. In 1995, I joined the newly launched JCC Child Care Program. Over the last 12 years, I have worked with infants through school-age children. Currently, I am the Child Care Coordinator and fours and fives lead teacher. I am also enrolled at Penn State University and is within three classes of earning my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I am married and a mother of two beautiful daughters. I feel fortunate to work with a group of inspirational, supportive, and dedicated individuals. They inspire me to be a better teacher, friend, and co-worker.
“Integrating Children's Literature Across the Curriculum”
The project “Integrating Children’s Literature Across the Curriculum,” is designed to enhance literacy and school readiness through the use of children’s books and support materials. The children and teachers choose a favorite story to read and discuss from may angles, with the children then reenacting the story through dramatic play. The art projects, math, and science experiments and dance activities that result are photographed and compiled into books with the children’s language as text. The books are laminated for frequent use and are available for children to take home to share with their families, opening a dialogue between parents and children.

Trista Moyer
Salford Mennonite Child Care Center Harleysville, Pennsylvania
My name is Trista Moyer and I am a teacher in our two year old room. I work at Salford Mennonite Child Care Center in Harleysville, Pa. I am engaged to Andrew who is a wonderful man and a great gift in my life. Our wedding is June 2007. Thank you very much for is gracious opportunity to help enhance our child care center.
“The Multicultural Project”
The Multi-Cultural Project will enhance our program greatly. It will provide books, dolls, puzzles, instruments etc. for the children to explore and learn about other cultures. The children I teach are very curious and will thrive with the opportunity to learn about cultures that are not theirs.

Barry Muser
Kiddie Academy Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania
I am 22 yrs of age. I currently have my AA degree in early childhood education and am working on my BA in Human Development and family studies. I have been working with children for eight yrs. Currently I am the group Supervisor in the four year old program, but have worked with all age groups.
“Butterfly Greenhouse”
The butterfly green house was created to provide hands on learning of nature concepts. The construction of the green house was designed to be simplistic so that the children in the class can assemble it. Once the greenhouse is fully established the class will be able to maintain and enjoy all its aspects. This will truly be something that all the classes will be able to explore and enjoy. This will not only be a learning project but one of accomplishment and enjoyment. I am Debbie Rypinski and I’ve been married for 33 years. I have 3 wonderful children and a grandson. I have worked at Sunshine Preschool and Child Care Center since 1994. I also volunteer at my church to teach PREP. My most recent accomplishment is achieving my goal and becoming a Preschool Teacher and receiving my Child Development Associate Credential.

Debbie Rypinski
Sonshine Pre-School Child Care Center Bensalem, Pennsylvania
I am Debbie Rypinski and I've been married for 33 years. I have 3 wonderful children and a grandson. I have worked at Sonshine Preschool and Child Care Center since 1994. I also voluteer at my church to teach PREP. My most recent accomplishment is achieving my goal and becoming a preschool teacher, and receiving my Child Development Associate Credentials.
“Stepping Stone Activity Center”
The name of my project is the Stepping Stone Activity Center. It will be an area where children can improve on their fine, gross motor and cognitive skills, both independently and also with teachers help. It would be a great place for a teacher to observe her children other than her classroom. I have choosen age appropriate equipment to have a safe environment. Children of preschool age need to move but also be safe.

Jodi Skelly
Tender Care Learning Center New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Growing up in Level Green, today I reside in Delmont. I graduated form Penn-Trafford High school in 1988 and continued my education at California University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Science and a concentration in Elementary/Early Childhood Education. As a single mom, my daughter Alison who will be 4 in April is my biggest inspiration and keeps me going. My passion is photography. I have had the honor of having one of my photos published in a book called. ìShifting Sands,î through the International Library of Photography, something that I will always be proud of and cherish. I would like to dedicate this award to the memory of my parents, Joseph and Betty Ann Cavada, who unfortunately passed away summer of 2005. Thanks Mom and Dad. I love and miss you!
“Amazing Manipulatives”
My philosophy is that children learn best through play, especial when they are creating with their hands. ìAmazing Manipulatives,î is a way for children to be creative and use their imagination when they are given the opportunity to explore various manipulatives. Some of the tools that I intend to purchase are ìJumbo Nuts and Boltsî, ìGiant Fun Beadsî, ìPuzzlesî, and a ìBrick Building Activity Table with various blocks. By using these items and others, my children will work on developing building and strengthening their fine motor skills. By supplementing our interest centers, I can help all my children to feel good about themselves when they are able to work on and complete a task.


Karen Freeland
The Children's Courtyard Austin, Texas
I have worked in early childhood education for more than 12 years. The first time a child looked up at me and said ìI did it!î I was hooked. I love the look on a childís face when he or she experiences or discovers something for the first time. I am currently working on my Associateís Degree, and plan to continue in early childhood education for many years to come.
“Family Pizza Garden”
For our project, Family Pizza Garden, the children will plan, construct, plant and care for a vegetable herb garden. When the vegetables are mature, the children will make homemade pizza with sauce made from our garden plants. Families will be invited to join us for a special Family Pizza Night. We will document our project from start to finish using childrenís writing and dictations, drawings, charts, and photographs. The children will learn to plan, create, observe, work independently and cooperatively, and feel proud of their accomplishments.


Shauntell Kanigan
Kids on the Move Early Education Center Orem, Utah
I am originally from Billings, Montana. After high school I moved to Utah to attend Utah State University, where I received my bachelor's degree in Family and Human Development. Shortly after graduation I got married and began my own family. Now I have two wonderful children, Jacob who is three and Isabella who is one. Along with being a wife and a mother I am also an early education teacher for Kids on the Move for the past four years.
“Hooked on Books”
ìHooked on Booksî project is to promote early literacy in children; the basic idea is to take a book and find pictures that coordinate with it, and then add a fishing pole. The concept is a teacher or parent can read a book and then ìfishî for the different pictures. This will reiterate the book and also encourage discussion and language development. For me, the great thing about this project is that it can be used in the center or parents can borrow it to bring more literacy activities to the home.


Vicki Lucas
Building Bridges Family Child Care and Preschool Harrisonburg, Virginia
I am a native Virginian. I have three sisters with whom I am very close. I have been married for 33 years to my husband Bill. We have one son and one daughter. I have cared for many children over the last 23 years. Enriching childrenís lives and advocating on their behalf is my passion. I am continuing my education and constantly striving to improve myself and the quality of care I give my children. I am the president of the Shenandoah Valley Child Care Assoc. and an active advocate for the ìGus Busî, a mobile literacy vehicle that provides a book bag exchange program to families living in low-income neighborhoods.
“Four Seasons Magical Theater”
My project is the ìFour Seasons Magical Theaterî. This is an enclosed outdoor stage with a tin roof. The front of the stage is made so children can design and change the scenery. The stage will have built-in storage for costumes and props. The theater will become much more than a stage as the children bring their favorite characters and stories to life. Read alouds on the stage, accompanied by the sights, sounds, and smells of nature will provide the children with a ìsenseîational experience.


Samantha Carterby
Family Friend Childcare/Preschool and Snack Package School Richland, Washington
I have been a family childcare provider for eight years. During that time I have come to love the time that I have with the children. I love to see them investigate, share, and learn. Now, I have grown into a community leader and spend time teaching others in my area to take time to investigate.
“Pathways to the Future”
We will be making a trike path out of repositional rubber mats. This will allow the children to reincorporate role play into their outside environment. We have an enormous tree in the play yard that offers tons of lessons- but the roots cost us our level ground. The paths will allow us to ride over the roots perfectly.


Edna Darling
Darling Day Care Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Children are a very important part of my life. We have seven children, and 4 grandchildren. I have been a family child care provider for 26 years, serving more than 100 children, and loving it. I am continually taking classes thru the University system because there is always more information that I can learn to provide the best possible care to the children I am responsible for. I am also nationally accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care, have been a leader at the local support group and presented workshops at the state level. Last year, in 2006, I was awarded the Governors Award for excellence in Family Child Care. But the most important part of my life is meeting the needs and challenges of children in my care, and giving them lots of love.
“Three, Two, One, Blast Off!”
We will be building a spaceship in the backyard for the children to play in. It will hold 6-8 children at a time. The spaceship will be made out of plywood and painted with control panels and windows to see ìearthî. We will also have space helmets, air tanks, and space suits. With this, the children can pretend to go to the moon, mars, and outer space. They will also have some new space-related books, puzzles, and manipulative. My idea is to let the children learn about outer space, exploring "new worlds" and developing their scientific imaginations. Perhaps one of them will someday go to Mars or develop a cure for cancer because they have been allowed to explore and create with their imagination.

Deborah Kichefski
Faith Child Care, Inc. Appleton, Wisconsin
For twelve years I have been a teacher and have worked with three and four year old children. I am a mother of three children and a grandmother of seven children. My hobbies include reading and spending time with my family. For the past five years I have been a teacher at Faith Child Care in Appleton, WI where I continue to enjoy watching the children embrace their love for God. I am also employed at Target part-time.
“Enhancing Communications”
The project I chose is a Boardmaker by Mayer and Johnson. The Boardmaker is capable of making print pictures and symbols quickly as I need them for my classroom. By using the Boardmaker to make picture schedules, song boards and sequence boards, the non-verbal or low-verbal children will feel more included in the daily activities of our classroom. They will also be able to communicate their needs to me and their peers easily. I chose this project because I wanted to better meet the needs of some children I presently have in my classroom, as well as other children in our child care center, who have not mastered their verbal skills.

ping Language Through Play