“Our early childhood educators teach children in the most important time of brain development from birth to age 5, and they very rarely are recognized and appreciated,” said Robyn Lightcap, executive director at Preschool Promise.
Nine people across 106 Preschool Promise partner sites from around the Dayton region were selected as award winners. Fellow educators and administrators nominated the awardees, and the winners were selected by a committee.
The award winners were:
Male Educator of the Year - Jovan Etter
Leadership Award - Dawn Potter
Growth Award - Brenda Sharp
Equity Champion - Amanda Evans
Graduate of the Year - Darlene Oglesby
Most Likely to Have a Positive Climate - Tara Spiedel
Perfect Attendance - Johnita Pitts
Most Composed - Adelina Brown
Book-of-the-Month Worm - Mary Montgomery
Emily Broughton, director of development, marketing and outreach for Preschool Promise, said the winners were able to take home a $500 check to spend as they wished.
Broughton said many early education teachers are especially underpaid in the teaching profession but buy their own supplies for classrooms. One teacher said she bought shoes for her students, Broughton said. “We know a lot of these teachers go home and go to the store and spend money on the kids out of their own pockets,” Broughton said.
Broughton said the event was also a way for the teachers to connect with each other. Being a teacher can be isolating, she said, because most of the time a teacher is with kids in their classroom, and many teachers have their own families and second jobs because they make so little. Giving them space to connect in this way can be helpful, she said.
“We know these people do this work because they have a passion for the kids, first and foremost,” Broughton said. “And so often people underestimate the effect they have on children.”
Preschool Promise is a nonprofit that helps kids get ready for kindergarten. The organization works with children in Dayton, Jefferson Twp., Kettering, Mad River, Northridge, Trotwood-Madison, West Carrollton and Huber Heights school districts.
PNC Bank, Dayton Children’s’ Hospital and Oregon Printing sponsored Thursday’s event.