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PBS KIDS Announces Educators Selected for 2019 Early Learning Champions Program

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Program Recognizes 10 Early Childhood Teachers and Care Providers

Arlington, VA, October 30, 2019 – Today, PBS KIDS named 10 educators as the 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions. Established in 2018, this awards program recognizes committed educators who work with young children, from infants to second graders, and offers a variety of community building, leadership and professional learning opportunities provided by PBS KIDS and member stations.

“Research shows that the first five years of a child’s life are the most critical, setting the stage for lifelong development,” said Sara Schapiro, Vice President, PBS Education. “Early educators play a key role during this important time, but are rarely acknowledged for their incredible contributions. We are honored to recognize their invaluable work through the PBS KIDS Early Leaning Champions program.”

The PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions program, which recognized 17 passionate educators of young children in 2018, includes various early learning caregivers – certified Pre-K, Head Start and early elementary teachers, childcare providers as well as family, friends and neighbors in early learning settings – representing, celebrating and supporting the diverse teaching community impacting young learners. With support from PBS KIDS and local PBS stations, they will explore unique in-person and digital experiences, forge pathways for their own professional growth, build meaningful relationships with peers from across the country, create content and develop and implement their ideas in their communities and classrooms.

“As I entered this program a year ago, I never could have imagined the doors that it would open -- not just in education, but in public speaking in general,” said Roshanna Beard, a 2018 ELC educator from local PBS station WFSU in Tallahassee, Florida . “I wish someone would have told me that this cohort would push me to be a me that I did not know existed. I have had my school district, school and even my own family tell me the importance and impact of my work.” 

This year’s honorees were selected for their passion and commitment to early education and have each demonstrated outstanding impact in supporting the growth and learning of the whole child, strengthening the ecosystem in which children learn and creating unique and innovative teaching experiences. Through the Early Learning Champions program, PBS KIDS aims to create a community that includes professional learning and networking opportunities for educators, while fostering relationships between them and their local PBS stations.

The 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions and their local PBS stations include:

  • Janalyn Maes, Hodgin Elementary School, Albuquerque, New Mexico (NMPBS)
  • Grace Ruddy, Hawthorne Elementary, Boise, Idaho (IdahoPTV)
  • Alexandra Mindler, Wilson Area School District, Easton, Pennsylvania (WLVT)
  • Melissa Cardon, Little Bubbles, Bellevue, Nebraska (NET)
  • Cherika Watford, Harris Early Learning Center, Birmingham, Alabama (APTV)
  • Sarah Saenz, Head Start Kent County, Grand Rapids, Michigan (WGVU)
  • Felicia Gray, Burris Laboratory School, Muncie, Indiana (WIPB)
  • Claudia Robles Arias, BilingualKid Language Immersion School, Mechanicsville, Virginia (WCVE)
  • Kristen Valley, Boone Park Elementary School, North Little Rock, Arkansas (AETN)
  • Dee Liggens, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OETA)


About PBS KIDS
PBS KIDS, the number one educational media brand for kids, offers children ages 2-8 the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, digital media and community-based programs. PBS KIDS and local stations across the country support the entire ecosystem in which children learn, including their teachers, parents and community. Provided by stations, the free PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream is available to more than 95% of U.S. TV households. Kidscreen- and Webby Award-winning pbskids.org provides engaging interactive content, including digital games and streaming video. PBS KIDS offers mobile apps to help support young children’s learning, including the PBS KIDS Video app, which is available on a variety of mobile devices and on platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung TV and Chromecast. PBS KIDS also offers parent and teacher resources to support children’s learning anytime and anywhere. For more information on PBS KIDS content and initiatives supporting school readiness and more, visit pbs.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Contacts:
Lubna Abuulbah, PBS KIDS; 703-739-8463; labuulbah@pbs.org
Catherine Dillon, Allison+Partners; 312-429-1303; PBS@allisonpr.com