2018 Honor an Educator Honorees

2018 Honor an Educator Honorees

Honoree: Cathy Higa
Cathy Higa is a master teacher at the Children’s Center at California State University, Fullerton. With more than 25 years of teaching experience, she has touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of children and their families. Cathy has a kind, patient demeanor and an uncanny ability to recognize and nourish the wonderful, unique characteristics each child brings to her classroom. When parents pick their children up from Sunshine Room, they are welcomed by Cathy’s warm smile and a detailed description of what their child especially enjoyed, or were challenged by, during the course of the day. She provides warmth, security, and guidance not just to the children in her room, but also to their parents and to her colleagues. She can convince even the most anxious and overwhelmed parents to appreciate the things about their preschoolers that sometimes drive them crazy at home. She helps them understand that a child’s defiance demonstrates her tenacity, or that an unwillingness to share can symbolize his growing independence. Behind the scenes, Cathy has been instrumental in setting up an enriching, play-based curriculum that allows the children to explore and learn in an environment that is safe, stimulating, and always fun. Cathy’s influence reaches far beyond her own classroom. Every year she works with a dedicated group of staff and interns, advising and mentoring them, which has helped improve the quality of early childhood educators in Southern California. As parents of children currently in Sunshine Room and as Cathy’s colleagues, we would like to say “Mahalo” to Cathy for the joy, guidance and “sunshine” she brings to all of our lives.

Nominated by Janna Kim

Honoree: Pat Dorman
Pat worked with CAAEYC over many years as a liaison to the California Legislature. Her publication, On the Capitol Doorstep helped both legislators and educators understand the

Legislative process and the budget process as it related to young children's issues. The trainings Pat offered and the information she provided helped both parents and those in the early childhood field become better advocates for children.

More recently as a member of P.E.A.C.E. (Peace Educators Allied for Children Everywhere) Pat has chaired the mini-grants for Peace Projects, which encourages people to develop ideas for spreading peaceful values and provides seed money for those projects to actualize.

As a grandparent Pat has been a strong advocacy voice for LGBT children and families in both schools and communities.

Pat's ability to articulate the issues she is passionate about helps us all realize how important our voices can be.

Nominated by Joyce Daniels and Jenny Yen

Honoree: Cheryl Horney
Cheryl is a powerful advocate for educators, families and children.  She is a CAAEYC board member, the chair of The Center for Social Change, an intern with EPCC as well as the CDC Development Director for WuYee Children’s and Family Services.  She has dedicated herself to making our world a better place for children and families.  Cheryl is the future of our field in California and all done with a smile and grace.

Nominated by Educators for Peaceful Classrooms and Communities

Honoree: Stacy Lorenz
As a program we would like to honor Stacy Lorenz for many reasons.  Her passion for the field of early childhood education has driven her to be an outstanding educator.  For years, Stacy has provided developmentally appropriate curriculum, an engaging learning environment and a support system for families.  Stacy is dedicated to creating a learning space where a diverse group of children and families are valued and actively participate.  This is evident when her students and families are excited about the learning community.  She uses her curriculum and environment to build secure relationships with her primary group of students as well as their families and other participants in our program.

In addition to her role as a lead teacher, Stacy has always emerged as a leader of other teachers.  She provides ongoing support for our team and models professionalism. Her ability to be open-minded, and compassionate combined with her knowledge and experience makes her a valuable resource for other caregivers, teachers and families alike.

Lastly, Stacy is an exemplary example of an advocate. She recognizes the individual needs of students, teachers and families, and is willing to engage in difficult conversations to support those needs.  She demonstrates cultural competence, respect and courage in her work as an early childhood advocate.

She has been an integral part of Clever Endeavors Early Care and Education since the fall of 2006 and we are so proud to honor her for all of her dedication, countless hours and commitment to the field and to our program.

Nominated by Jamie Michaels

Honoree: Shera Scott
Shera Scott has been an amazing leader in the Central California Chapter of CaAEYC.  She was president from 2004-2006, and is again serving as president for 2016-2018.  Her outstanding leadership skills have been evident in the chapter board meetings.  She has maintained a full board, with all positions filled by dedicated and competent members.  Shera encourages members to be active and to think of new ways to increase membership and awareness.  Under her leadership, the chapter has undertaken new fundraisers and now has a healthy budget.  She seeks out input from past presidents and other seasoned members.  Shera has remained flexible during this time of upheaval as NAEYC undergoes its organizational structural change.  Shera has shared details of the change with the chapter board as they have been made available to her.

While maintaining this very active level of dedication to the local chapter, Shera has been taking on leadership roles at the state level.  She holds the state board position of “Conference Committee Chair” and she is also the Conference Lead for this 2018 state conference.

And while doing all of this, Shera continues to work as the director of a State Funded Preschool, where she has worked for the past 17 years.  In her position, she mentors co-workers on classroom environments and technology use.  She has presented workshops on the following: Using Masterpieces to Teach the Elements of Art to Young Children, Photo Documentation in Early Childhood Classrooms and Implementing the Theory of Loose Parts.

The key to Shera’s success in all of the above roles and responsibilities are her habits of mind which include:

  • Being super organized
  • Staying on top of details
  • Having clear communication

The members of the Central California Chapter are honored to have Shera Scott as our outstanding leader.  We are truly appreciative of all that she has done (and will continue doing) for the organization.

Nominated by Central California Chapter and Marilyn Shelton

Honoree: Maria Garcia
Maria Garcia has been an Early Childhood Educator for more than 15 years. Maria started her career at the CSUF Children's Center in 2004 as a Teacher's Aide and developed into a Lead Teacher in 2009 and eventually a Master Teacher in 2012. Maria is a responsible, hardworking, generous, jubilant and loving member of the Children's Center that has cultivated many lives stretching from children to young adults. We at the Children's Center are grateful for such a wonderful mentor and fellow teacher.

“Maria is an amazing teacher. She genuinely cares about her staff, the children and their families. Maria is deeply loving and caring, which is shown through the interactions she has with the children. Maria has become an inspiring role model; whose work ethic and values have and will continue to shape the teacher I strive to become.” Lupe

“Maria embodies all that an Early Childhood Educator should be. She is an illumination of love, caring, ethics, and engagement for children, college interns, and all teachers in the Early Childhood field.” Congratulations, Maria! Love, Cathy

Maria is the reason why I have fallen in love with Early Childhood Education. She has been such an amazing mentor and I am beyond thankful for meeting someone like her.” Alejandra

 “Maria builds wonderful relationships with each person, valuing them for exactly who they are. Her interactions with children are loving and joyful.” Omie

The thing that stands out most about Maria is the immense care and attention she puts into each and every child. Every day, she comes in with a positive energy no matter what, and amazes everyone around her with how she interacts with those children and promotes an environment enriched with both learning and social aspects.” Lauren

Maria brings joy to everyone she comes in contact with.” Sonia

Maria is an amazing teacher for children and students who are majoring in this field. She does whatever it takes to provide a perfect learning environments for children and students. Maria is truly an amazing leader and mentor.” Jennifer M.

Nominated by Guadalupe Rivas

Honoree: Eric Lee
Eric Lee is a wonderful example of a leader, mentor and human being at Orange County Peace Camp. From a very young age (5 years old), he showed his advocacy skills by standing up for others rights. Every year, he would take on more responsibilities such as being our website-master. An exemplary young man who isn't afraid to make his voice heard, fully knowing that he was the youngest by many years.

One example of his humanitarian strengths and Anti-bias perspectives is that when it came to creating a project to help homeless shelter youth, he proposed to bring them to camp rather than have Peace Camp go to them for a day. He personally organized fundraisers to be able to bring 30 homeless youth to camp for the past four years.

His most current work includes a research project analyzing the outcomes of teaching children Peace Education and the Bill of Rights through a book he wrote himself.

Eric is an amazing teacher, leader and friend to all and Orange County Peace Camp is honored to nominate him.

Nominated by Orange County Peace Camp

Honoree: Sydney Imus
To call Sydney a superstar would be an absolute understatement. Sydney’s displayed her passion for creating change and being a peace activist ever since her first day as a camper. After she outgrew simply being a camper, Sydney wanted to be more involved in the camp so she joined the Youth Leader program. To this day, she’s been an integral part of that program, strengthening it, and keeping it strong as we get new classes of Youth Leaders every year. Sydney is strong in not only encouraging but challenging her peers to be the best leaders they can be.

With the camp today, she’s taken the role of being one of the head leaders of the younger Youth Leader group. Within that role she helps plan Youth Leader meetings as well as the goals she believes the Youth Leader Program resides on. Balancing high school, a competitive sport, and Peace Camp would be difficult for most people. However, Sydney’s done it year after year and because of her dedication to supporting the growth of all of the children that come through Peace Camp, she has made a huge impact on their lives.

Outside of camp, Sydney’s taken our ideals and become an advocate for the environment. She has a website “Green Earth Teen” in which she advocates for a cleaner and safer environment, one that not only helps our world become cleaner but also allows all the animals to live in a safer environment.

My favorite quote of hers is, “You can change someone’s life even if it’s just by saying hello to them or giving them a hug. By being a role model for children you can influence their future.”

Sydney, I know how deserving you are of this and we are so proud of you and thankful for what you have brought not only to our Peace Camp team but our lives as well. It has been amazing to see you grow from a camper, to such a strong and eager leader and activist.

You are truly a superstar.

The Orange County Peace Camp Team

Nominated by Orange County Peace Camp

Honoree: Lola Cornish
Lola has a wide variety of experience in the early childhood field.  She has been a preschool teacher in both centers and family childcare.  She worked at the Child Care Resource and Referral agency in Napa County and is currently Co-Director of Public Policy and Member Engagement for the California Resource and Referral Network.  She travels the state, providing trainings to those who work with children.

She is a certified trainer in the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework through the National Alliance Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds.  Lola is also on the board for Sacramento Valley AEYC and is a co-chair for The Center for Social Change.  This year she is an intern with Educators for Peaceful Classrooms and Communities, developing a peace educator training for the Sacramento area.  In addition she is a puppeteer and has conducted puppeteering workshops and volunteered with Kids-on-the-Block of San Diego.  Honoring inclusion, diversity and respect are values that Lola includes in all of her work and her voice is a valuable one in our field.

Nominated by Educators for Peaceful Classrooms and Communities

Honoree: Kendall Imus
Kendall is the epitome of the ideals Peace Camp strives to impart on its campers every year. She joined the camp as a camper at a very young age and jumped at the first opportunity she had to become a Youth Leader and went on from there. Though still being one of the younger Youth Leaders, she is one of the more experienced individuals within our staff.

One of Peace Camp’s main goals is teaching children about social justice issues and the importance of being a peace activist. Kendall is never afraid to voice her opinion when she sees something wrong happening. She also has a natural ability to connect with the children she is around. Towards the end of the week of camp, you’d see Kendall with a whole group of kids around her just at lunch time because they love her and she loves them. If you combine how strong of person she is and her ability to connect with the children, only then you could begin to imagine the impact she has had on these childrens’ lives. She may be young but she’s affecting lives for the better without realizing it.

You are a very special person with such an impact on everyone around you. This isn't only for what you have done up to no, but also for the lives you will touch in the future.

We are so proud of you and cannot wait to see what you do going forward!

The Orange County Peace Camp Team

Nominated by Orange County Peace Camp

Honoree: Kathleen Herbst
Kathleen Herbst is an exemplary ECE educator! As the Jumpstart program coordinator at CSU, Fullerton, Katie has touched many people's lives, and she continues to transform lives every day. College students adore her and appreciate her mentorship. Students mentioned that Katie always makes herself available to them when they have questions relating to the Jumpstart program, Head Start classrooms, teachers, communities and/or academic performance. As a former preschool teacher, Katie was able to conduct effective observations of team performance and provided quality feedback to improve the quality of team sessions.

Katie not only cares about students' academic achievement along with the quality of Jumpstart work, she cares more about individual student's mental health and self-caring practices. She constantly reminds students to eat, sleep, relax and take good care of themselves; even though she is not a good model of self-care practice. She is a great model for pre-service ECE teachers to witness an ECE educator who works above and beyond with intentional teaching practice every day.

I appreciate Katie's ability to embrace new ideas, which usually ends up with more work on her end, however, she never complains and would always say "YES" when the idea is helpful for students and/or disadvantaged children. She is a living proof of a true ECE educator!

Nominated by Jenny Yen