24 early childhood educators in Nebraska will win $1,000 each

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative is partnering with We Care For Kids to give away $24,000 to early childhood educators across the state.

They are calling this the Early Childhood Champion Award.

In October, two early childhood educators will be chosen to win a $1,000 prize.

Two more winners will be announced each month after that for one year.

Sarah Ann Kotchian, chief operating officer of the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, says the award is intended to show appreciation for people who often aren’t recognized enough.

“When you have a quality child care provider, as a working parent or family member, you can go to work knowing that they’re in good hands,” Kotchian said.

Maddie Gates, owner and pre-K teacher at Premier Preschool, agrees that sometimes the work they do is misunderstood.

“It’s undervalued as far as the education that goes into it,” Gates said. “We really work hard, everybody does, and these kids are at an age where they’re so formable. Sometimes people don’t understand how much goes into teaching kids this age for a day.”

Gates thinks this award will especially help educators in rural communities who have less resources.

Kara Ficke, campaign manager of We Care For Kids, said 91% of Nebraska counties don’t have enough licensed care providers to meet the demand of their communities.

She said this is another reason why the support is more important now than ever.

“As a mother who also works, families can’t go to work without our early childhood educators, so I do hope that they feel recognized and supported through this,” Ficke said.

Anyone can nominate a childhood educator who thinks they deserve it.

Ficke said the money can be put toward whatever the educator wants.

Kotchian said they’ve already received dozens of applications, so it’s important to submit a nomination as soon as possible. The deadline closes on Sept. 16.

An unbiased selection committee composed of people from across the state will be choosing the winners based on the stories sent in.

Gates said she hopes that an award like this will inspire more people to become childhood educators in Nebraska.

“I think we’ll find more people wanting to educate young kids, even throughout the challenges, because they’ll start seeing that people are recognizing what we’re doing,” Gates said.

To nominate someone for the award, visit this link.

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