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Press Release: September 18, 2013
Habitot Children's Museum
Media Contact: Lauren (510) 647-1111 x31
Public Information: (510) 647-1111
Images: available

"Preschool Teachers Make a Difference" Awards

(Berkeley, CA) September 30, 2013

Over 125 thrilled parents, enthusiastic friends, and family members packed the house at Habitot Children’s Museum for the 5th Annual "Preschool Teachers Make a Difference" contest.

At the September 30th event, ten exemplary early childhood educators were recognized as this year’s winners. Over 400 preschool teachers have been nominated since Habitot launched the awards program, and over 40 have been awarded gift certificates for classroom supplies, educational products, free field trip visits to Habitot, and wide recognition for their outstanding contributions to early childhood education.

This year teachers received a $100 gift certificate from Lead Sponsor Do-a-Dot Art, $100 worth of school supplies for their classrooms from Discount School Supply, and a charming puppet from long-time contest sponsor Folkmanis.

Kimberly Woodworth, a classroom parent, said about the teacher she nominated, Nancy Lehew from of Our Savior Lutheran School in Livermore: “She encourages laughter, imaginative play, kindness, respect, thoughtfulness and investigation.” Many teachers had their whole classes in attendance, and some teachers cried as they heard from their nominators how much their teaching had meant to the whole family.

Awards judge Laura Owens Arellano, one of the previous years’ winners, spoke about what a meaningful honor it was to be part of the event, and how she loved reading the essays.

At a time when teachers receive little respect or recognition for their work, Habitot created the “Preschool Teachers Make a Difference” Awards to remind people about the critical role of early childhood educators, launching three- and four-year-olds on the road to a lifetime of learning.

"My hope is to elevate the profession and appreciate these unsung heroes whose impact on young children is immense," said Gina Moreland, Habitot’s executive director and creator of the contest. “At Habitot, it is important to us to support the whole village that raises a child, and preschool teachers are a crucial part of that community.” The contest has grown each year since 2008, thanks to strong word of mouth and to the generous participation of Media Sponsors Red Tricycle, Oogiah, Savvy Source, Parents’ Press, and AskANanny.

While guests mingled and enjoyed refreshments in the museum space, happy children playing on the museum exhibits added to the mix. Habitot looks forward to opening nominations for the 6th “Preschool Teachers Make a Difference” Awards in the spring of 2014. Habitot is always seeking nominations for teachers to be honored by this unique program: nominations are accepted from all eight Bay Area counties from classroom parents and school administrators. We are also looking for community sponsors who would like to help us recognize teachers by contributing prizes, funding, or spreading the word about the contest.

2013 "Preschool Teachers Make a Difference" Award Winners:

- Alicia Cuevas, Wee Care Family Daycare, in Oakland
- Da’Monica Robinson, Lockwood Child Development Center, Oakland
- Faye Lucas, Lockwood State Pre-K, Oakland
- Michael McLaughlin, Hopkins Early Childhood Education Center, Berkeley
- Que Yi, Shu Ren International School, Berkeley
- Rebecca Dennis, Kids Place of San Anselmo, San Anselmo
- Laurie Truitt, The Model School Comprehensive Humanistic Learning Center, Berkeley
- Jolie McRae, Montclair Community Play Center, Oakland
- Elisa Pagliarulo, Stretch the Imagination, San Francisco
- Nancy Lehew, Our Savior Lutheran School, Livermore

2013 Judges: Dr. Stacy Thompson, former Department Chair and Faculty of Child Development at Merritt College, member of the Advisory Panel on Oakland Head Start, and current Dean of Academic Pathways and Student Services at Merritt College; Tanya Smith, Senior Quality Counts Coach for Alameda County First 5, which mentors and coaches teachers in licensed childcare centers; and Laura Owens Arellano, of Growing Light Montessori preschool and a 2012 Preschool Teachers Make a Difference Winner.

About Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum was founded in 1992 to meet the unique needs of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Habitot’s mission is to help the broad community of parents and caregivers raise curious, creative and confident children with dedicated programs for children with special needs, teen parents, formerly incarcerated mothers, and homeless families. Hands-on exhibits and programs focus exclusively on early childhood, ages 0-5.

Since opening 15 years ago in 1998, Habitot has welcomed almost 1,000,000 visitors, filling a niche for new parents and caregivers who seek safe and enriching experiences for young children, with parenting support, a toy lending library, affordable music and art classes, immersive learning exhibits, and a drop-in Art Studio.

Habitot Children’s Museum has been recognized multiple times as the “best museum for families” by Bay Area Parent Magazine, most recently in 2013. In addition, Habitot’s founder, Gina Moreland, has been honored with a Bay Area “Jefferson Award”, and was the City of Berkeley’s “Early Childhood Champion of the Year.” In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Parents’ Press readers voted Habitot “Best of the East Bay,” and in 2013 Habitot received the GuideStar Exchange Silver participation level, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar USA, Inc., the premier source of nonprofit information. In 2010, 2011 and in 2012, Habitot was designated a “Top-Rated Non-profit” by GreatNonprofits, a leading provider of reviews and ratings of nonprofit organizations. See all awards: www.habitot.org/museum/about_awards.html

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111
www.habitot.org