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Early Educator of the Year

Let's Grow Kids established an annual Early Educator of the Year Award to recognize excellence in teaching of Vermont’s young children and emphasize the importance of high-quality early childhood education. Each year, the award is given to a Vermont early childhood educator who demonstrates exception skill and dedication that positively impacts the lives of children, families, and the community.

To be eligible for the award, a nominee must be a center-, home- or school-based child care professional who has been an early childhood educator for 3 or more years and whose place of employment has at least 4 stars in Vermont's STep Ahead Recognition System (STARS) or is NAEYC or NAFCC accredited. Employees of LGK as well as previous winners are ineligible for the award.

An award selection committee comprised of leaders in early education and child development review award applications and choose the award winner. The winner will receive a $5,000 award and all expenses paid to attend the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC) conference as well as one national conference. The winner's program will also receive $500.

2020 Early EducatorS of the Year:

We recognize that, in 2020, there have been countless Early Educators of the Year in Vermont, with each playing many incredibly important roles during the COVID-19 pandemic. To show our appreciation for your passion and steadfast commitment to our state's youngest children during this historic time, we made the following video and commissioned an accompanying piece of artwork (below) by local artist Mark Gonyea, which we have mailed to every child care program in Vermont. We will be forever grateful for all that you did and continue to do to serve Vermont’s children and families. You are our Early Educators of the Year. YOU ARE OUR HEROES. Thank you!


Past Honorees Include:

Meri Carpenter-Saladino
My Second Home
Melanie Zinn
Horizon Early Learning Program
Cheryl “Cookie” Danyow
Mountain Road Preschool
Ellen Kraft
Honeycomb Kids
Jackie Reno
Janet S. Munt Family Room
Kathi Apgar
The Y Early Childhood Program for UVM Medical Center
Geralyn “Gerri” Barrows
Discovery Hill Family Child Care and Preschool
Elsa Bosma
Puddle Jumpers