2019 Honor an Educator Honorees

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Honor Early Childhood Educator

2019 Honor an Educator Honorees

Honoree: Lingling  Duan
Lingling Duan has been working in the early childhood education field for more than 20 years. I admire Lingling's dedication to the education of young children. We took ECE classes together and worked toward our goal of becoming an ECE professional. Her warmth and caring demeanor have touched many children and their families. Children adore her as a teacher and parents appreciate her guidance. She believes in emergent curriculum and is always following children's interest in her curriculum design. She is a colleague, friend and mentor. I rely on her wisdom and understanding of early childhood theories and practices. She is my 'go-to' person, and I know I can always count on her for a listening ear of my frustrations, joys and dilemmas. I appreciate teacher Lingling and thank her for her contribution to the education of young children.

Nominated by Lidan Ou

Honoree: Gayle Scott
Teacher Gayle Scott has been working at my family child care center for more than 10 years. I am very thankful for Gayle for her professionalism and staying with me through the ups and downs of the center. She is not only a teacher at my center but also a friend to me. She is warm, kind and she provides guidance to children, parents and staff. She has transformed many children's lives. Children LOVE story time because teacher Gayle takes them to the land of imagination and fantasy. She also employs a dialogical reading strategy and engages children in a meaningful conversation. It is touching to hear the conversation Gayle sparkles among children. Parents appreciate teacher Gayle's gentle caring approach while interacting with their children. She is culturally sensitive and always plan culturally related activities for our center. On behalf of children and parents in my center, I would like to convey our gratitude to Teacher Gayle!

Nominated by Lidan Ou

Honoree: Qingmei  Ou
Qingmei Ou has been working in the early education field for more than 12 years. From an assistant at a family child care home to the owner of a large family child care home, Qingmei has climbed a mountain. Her perseverance in creating a 'goodness of fit' learning environment for all the children in her family child care home is impressive. Her genuine caring attitude toward the children in her center is highly appreciative by the busy parents in Silicon Valley. As a life-long learner, Qingmei continues to improve her knowledge in early childhood education and strives to attend professional training opportunities. She continues to implement research-based ECE teaching strategies and elevates her family child care home to the highest standard of an early childhood center. She is to be commended for proving a vital alternative choice for parents when finding a place to care and educate their children.

Nominated by Lidan Ou

Honoree: Shunu Yen
Dr. Shunu Yen is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at National Taitung University, Taiwan. As an award-winning author, Shunu has published more than 40 books including children's storybook, chapter book and parenting handbook. For more than 19 years, Shunu works with teachers and parents to help young children find the love of reading! Through radio programs, workshop presentations, guest lecturing, and keynote speaking, Shunu has trained teachers and parents in several countries in Asia including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau. Children love the imagination and fantasy world Shunu created for them! Teachers and parents appreciate her wisdom and teaching strategies. Shunu has changed and will continue to change young children and adults love of Children’s Literature!

Nominated by Shu-Chen Jenny Yen

Honoree: Kungshang Sandra Lee
Dr. Kungshang Sandra Lee serves as the Executive Director for the IRead Foundation Institute and the Dolphin Media Education Institute in China. For her current position, Sandra works hard to train preschool teachers in China and to guide local preschools to follow the developmentally appropriate practice. Prior to her work in China, Sandra was a Montessori preschool teacher and a program director for 19 years in the USA. She also served as the Mother Tongue curriculum/teaching consultant for Singapore’s Ministry of Education (2012-2016). Sandra has published 5 award-winning parenting books in Taiwan and China. Sandra is actively involved in the field of Children Literature and Early Literacy; she is passionate about training teachers in early literacy and helping parents with parenting issues. As a trainer/educator, Sandra's work has impacted and will continue to impact many parents and teachers globally.

Nominated by Shu-Chen Jenny Yen

Honoree: Dionne Clabaugh
Dr. Dionne Clabaugh has been an exceptional and dynamic educator in the field of Early Childhood Education. Dr. Dionne (that's how her students call her) is dedicated to the success of her students, and she is always willing to help and offer her time to listen to her students' needs. She currently is a core faculty at Pacific Oaks College San Jose Campus. Dr. Dionne teaches a variety of MA courses in the School of Human Development using innovative and emergent pedagogies for high engagement and transformative learning, including autonomy supportive teaching strategies. At Pacific Oaks College, she serves as lead faculty for collaborative course development and revision for core and elective courses, including BA student success and capstone courses, and MA courses in life-span development, praxis, fieldwork, and thesis. She is one of the two founders of the San Jose Campus Adjunct Faculty Mentor Project to advancing the mentoring needs for adjunct professors.

Nominated by Sandy Baba

Honoree: Beth Reeves-Fortney
It is a great pleasure to nominate Beth Reeves-Fortney for the Honor an Educator award. She has been an active force in Monterey County for more than 15 years, supporting children, families and educators. She holds an MA in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. Beth is currently the Director of Programs for First 5 Monterey County (California), where she designs and implements programs that promote early childhood development and professional development for educators.

Beth currently spearheads the First 5 Monterey County Technical Assistance (TA) Projects to centers that support childcare quality and inclusion through on-site technical assistance. The Technical Assistance is grounded in best practice research and relationship-based, collaborative work. The Technical Assistance project is entering its 11th year of existence. This year the Technical Assistance project serves 20 classrooms and approximately 100 educators through the support of 7 consultants. She has attended four study tours to Reggio Emilia and two study tours to Pistoia, Italy and served as host of The Wonder of Learning Exhibit in Monterey in 2011. Other projects in Monterey County include integrated service collaboratives, college support for ECE professionals, a seminar series focusing on the social-emotional world of the child for early educators, and a mental health training series with more than 100 cross-disciplinary participants in Monterey County. Recently Beth was selected as the recipient of the Jeree Pawl Clinical Services Award on behalf of the California Association for Infant Mental Health (CalAIMH). This honor is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership as a developer of clinical services and workforce development.

Beth co-authored a chapter in the book Documentation and Inquiry in the Early Childhood Classroom: Research Stories from Urban Centers and Schools, by Linda R. Kroll and Daniel R. Meier, Routledge 2017, which featured the technical assistance work with Alegria Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Center in King City. As an early childhood consultant, Beth designed childcare environments for government agencies, corporations, community colleges, parks and schools. Beth’s career has enriched the lives of families and children, and the professionals who support them.

Nominated by Eileen McCourt

Honoree: Pat Thygesen
Pat Thygesen and I crossed paths twenty-two years ago. Pat was my Program Director, I the Site Supervisor, for Lake County’s first state-funded Child Development Combination I/T Preschool Center implementing PITC. Pat is an amazing leader. She is a forward thinker instrumental when Reggio arrived and led others to Italy. I admire Pat’s high standard of professionalism, the patience that always edifies through her tenor and talks, her nurturing of children, families and adult students like you and I, and her passion, dedication, and expertise for early childhood. Pat was the Mendocino College Child Development Center Lab School Director where she implemented Nature Explore & Outdoor Classroom Project designs and philosophy. Pat is an adjunct associate professor at Mendocino College inspiring students and faculty alike with 39 years teaching adults. She also instructed for College of the Redwoods and Sonoma State. Pat currently provides consulting and training services to Early Childhood Education/Child Development organizations.  

Pat is a committed NAEYC member with more than 26 years of nonstop volunteering. Pat introduced me to NAEYC via Redwood Empire AEYC of Lake/Mendocino Counties. Pat’s enthusiasm convinced me to join our profession’s association but also to be active; I became our local Public Policy Chair. Pat was founding member of Redwood Empire AEYC, President/Past President, Secretary, Grants and Awards Rep, and representative to Pacific Gateway AEYC; President/Past President of Pacific Gateway AEYC, as well as CAAEYC Board member as PGAEYC Board Rep, Chair of CAEYC Conference Committee, and a member of the Planning and Finance Committee. She was a CAAEYC Graduate Fellowship recipient and for multiple years a participant at NAEYC and CAAEYC Public Policy Symposiums.

During Pat’s extensive career I have not wholly exemplified; the private, State and Head Start programs she brought quality, leadership and professionalism within, the thousands of adult students she mentored, the children and families she nurtured, and those, like myself, enriched by knowing her, will go out into the world and pay it forward. I am standing here today as the Public Policy Chair for CAAEYC because Pat Thygesen has been a driving force behind my achievements. She is my colleague, mentor and dear friend.

Nominated by Jean Goulart, MA

Honoree: Lorraine Chow
Lorraine Chow has been an Early Childhood Education Professor at American River College since 1997. She is also currently a Region 2 Catalyst for CCCECE, an organization that connects early childhood educators in community colleges throughout the state.

One of the first things you learn about Lorraine is that she is always available to students and colleagues. She is always welcoming, gives people her time, pays attention and listens to people to know what they need. She is also a lifelong learner - Infant/Toddler Training, Touchpoints, Reggio Emilia, Northern California Plan Conference, EPCC training - she takes advantage of all these to better assist the students in her classes and to mentor those beginning in the field or those moving to the next step in their work with families and children or becoming instructors at the college level.

Each day she goes beyond what's required in any task she takes on and is an inspiration as a person and an educator.

Nominated by Educators for Peaceful Classrooms & Communities (EPCC)

Honoree: Sally Gomez
Sally Gomez has been a calm and steady presence on the Central California Chapter Board for more than 17 years.  Her knowledge and deep love of the organization is demonstrated through her dedication to the Chapter and all who have participated as board and committee members.  With that 17 years of experience comes a knowledge of the organization that is invaluable.  Sally has served in the positions of Membership Chair, Secretary, WOYC Committee and Vice President.  She has most recently joined the State Board participating in the role of State Director, representing the Central California Chapter.

Sally is extremely dependable and attends all board meetings and Chapter events, even though she will sometimes drive an hour each way to attend.  This often causes her to have late nights and very early mornings.

If you ask Sally to help you with a project, training, or anything else that has to do with the Chapter or CAAEYC her answer will always be “yes.”  This answer is always heartfelt and enthusiastic.  She is willing to try and participate in any way that she is needed.  And need her we do! The Central California Chapter would not be the same without Sally’s love and attention.

Sally’s influence stretches beyond the Chapter into the larger community of the Central Valley.  She has touched the lives of many children, families and teachers with her deep love of early childhood education and her giving spirit.

The Central California Chapter of CAAEYC is very proud to nominate Sally Gomez as an Honor an Educator Recipient.  We would not be who we are today without her!

Nominated by Central California Chapter of CAAEYC

Honoree: Christie Verarde
We nominate Christie Verarde to honor her many contributions to our East Bay Chapter of CAAEYC and to the ECE field.

Christie has demonstrated her commitment to young children, and to the professionals who work with them, throughout her career. She served as a Mentor Teacher while she taught young children, inspiring and guiding future ECE teachers. She served as a Professional Development Coordinator, supporting Early Childhood Development students at Chabot College to attain their Child Development Permits and to complete their academic goals including graduating with a Degree or Certificate. She has taught ECE/ECD classes for many years at various Community Colleges in the Bay Area, instructing and inspiring practitioners in our field. She now works for the California Early Childhood Mentor Program, supporting more than 600 Mentor Teachers and Director Mentors in their own professional growth as they guide new teachers and ECE administrators.

Christie has been an active participant in our East Bay Chapter of CAAEYC for many years, serving as the Awards and Grants chair, on our Accreditation committee and now as a representative for Contra Costa County. She has participated in and helped to facilitate many events and programs for East Bay Chapter, including securing presenters, reserving venues, operating the AV and much more. She has presented many times at CAAEYC's Annual Conference and serves on its Accreditation Committee.

We know that Christie can always be counted on to step up, step in and contribute invaluably to any activity. We are thrilled to honor educator Christie Verarde with this award.

Nominated by East Bay Chapter of CAAEYC

Honoree: Colleen Parsons
When I read the line, “Honor an Early Childhood Educator”, the first person came to my mind was Miss Colleen Parsons. Now, Miss Colleen is working as a Preschool Teacher at Nimitz Child Development Center (CDC), Sunnyvale. She has been a teacher for more than 15 years and touched many lives of children through her teaching. Initially, she started her teaching as a substitute teacher in CDC. I still remember the day, she taught our preschool children during the absence of another teacher, our children talked about her every day for few weeks and they screamed in joy when they saw her next time. She is very friendly to children, families and co-teachers. She has helped many young children to build their sense of empathy, gain their confidence, develop their language, solve their conflicts and voice their opinion. She puts extra effort and care to develop lesson plans and activities and spend loads of time to make teaching fun. She doesn’t just teach the material, but she makes it come alive. She enjoys and feels very happy when she sees her students make connection between their actions and her teaching concepts. She is a great role model. I have been extremely blessed to work with her and learn from her every day. I wish she live long and positively impact thousands of young children’s lives.

Nominated by Padmini Ramasamy