Each year Early Learning Centers recognizes individuals and groups who work or advocate on behalf of young children in our area. There are four (4) honorees each year: Teacher of Young Children in a Childcare, Teacher of Young Children in an ISD, The Robbie McGrew Memorial Honoree and the Champion for Children Honoree.

Champion for Children Honoree

Literacy Lubbock

Considering the single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books an being read to at home prior to beginning school, Literacy Lubbock’s efforts to promote literacy for pre-school children is incredible.

Literacy Lubbock started Tiny Tots Read a Lot! 12 years ago, at Godeke and Groves Library’s. Through this program, Literacy Lubbock puts books into children’s hands to encourage their long-term success. In a year that brought unprecedented challenges to in-person programming, Literacy Lubbock continued serving children and their families by adapting. When it became unsafe for volunteers to reat at sites, they continued to supply books to the regular sites and moved story times online as possible. In 2020 the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Literacy Lubbock gave 8291 books to young children through 14 different programs!

The Literacy Lubbock story times have 3 main purposes: first, they build excitement around reading for young children. They want children to associate books with fun. Second, story times provide modeling for families who may not have a tradition of reading books at home. By watching the readers, families can learn how to make reading an active, engaging, and stimulating experience for children. The thrid purpose is to build families’ libraries by giving them books to take home.

Robbie McGrew Memorial Honoree

Helen Liggett

This award is given to someone in our community who works or advocates on behalf of young children. Ms. McGrew was a tremendous advocate for young children including providing foster care to more than 45 children!

Helen Liggett is a Tiny Tots Read a Lot! volunteer with Literacy of Lubbock and has been reading to the children at Guadalupe Early Learning Center since 2019. Her bond with the children was immediate. Ms. Liggett has the skills to work with a group of children while still giving each child individual attention. When she is reading a story to the children, she is know to do dramatic voices, silly jokes and even wear costumes!

When COVID forced the shutdown of many businesses, and the childcare centers were no longer allowed to have volunteers in their centers Ms. Liggett went to great lengths working out technical issues so she could continue doing story time virtually through ZOOM.

Ms. Liggett even sponsored a Stuffed Animal Sleepover with the Wolfforth Library where children left their toys overnight to have lots of reading fun. Pictures of the stuffed animals reading together and enjoying the library were posted to social media for the children to see.

The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. Through the Literacy Lubbock’s Tiny Tots Read a Lot! program, Ms. Liggett puts new books into the children’s hands every week for them to take home and keep, encouraging their long-term success.

Ms. Liggett thank you so much for your dedication to the young children of our community and truly making a difference in the lives of young children.

Teacher of Young Children In An ISD

Naomi Ortiz

Naomi Otriz is a Pre-K teacher at Dupre Elementary School. She just completed her 10th year of teaching. She received her degree from Wayland Baptist and is currently working on her masters.

Ms. Ortiz said she loves working with the Pre-K children because it is so exciting to see the evolution of the children from the first day of class to the last. There is so much growth and development. It is also a time of genuine love that has not been tainted and you can see that when the children give you a hug and they still close their eyes while hugging you!

Ms. Ortiz believes Pre-K is the foundation for teaching life skills. She mentors other teachers in the district, and they always ask her “what’s the secret” to teaching. Ms. Ortiz says “what makes me successful is the relationships I build with the students. If you can build that relationship and confidence, and show genuine love, kids can and will do anything.”

Naomi Ortiz, thank you! You are making a difference in the lives of children!

Teacher of Young Children In A Childcare

Lorraine Bliss

Lorraine Bliss is a Kindergarten Teacher at Learning Tree Children’s Academy where she has worked with young children for 10 years.

According to parents at Learning Tree, Ms. Bliss is warm, engaging and thoughtful. Her compassion and loving demeanor, as well as her ability to command a classroom of 4-year-olds makes her not only a phenomenal teacher, but a mentor amongst her peers.

Ms. Bliss said she always enjoyed being around young children, “I like to see them light up when they learn something new.”

Lorraine Bliss, you are making a difference in the lives of young children and we thank you!

Previous Champion for Children Honorees

2010-Success By 6

2011-Wentz Orthodontics

2012-TTU Health Science Center: School of Nursing

2013-Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic

2014-South Plains Association for the Education of Young Children (SPAEYC)

2015-Junior League of Lubbock Food 2 Kids

2016-Amerigroup

2017-Family Promise

2018-Parenting Cottage

2019-Family Guidance and Outreach Center

2020-Eddy Morelock

Previous Robbie McGrew Memorial Honorees

2007-Robbie McGrew, Child Advocate

2008-Canzada Bray, Child Advocate

2009-Claire Dulaney, Child Advocate

2010-Paula Jones, Child Advocate

2011-Glenda Mathis, YWCA

2012-Johnanne Reynolds, Child Advocate

2013-Bob Craig, Child Advocate

2014-LaNelle Etheridge, Texas Tech Early Head Start

2015-Merinda Condra, The Institute for Creative Learners

2016-Rebecca Wilson, Parent’s in Crisis

2017-Cindy Bruington, Texas Tech Child Development Research Center

2018-Nancy Rasco, Child Advocate

2019-Aaron Dawson, One Heart Orphan Care

2020-Jeremy Cares, Tiny Tots, Read A Lot!

Previous Teacher of Young Children in an ISD Honorees

2007-Irma Guerra & Carol Schempp, Lubbock ISD

2008-Susan Weiland, Lubbock ISD

2009-Kathy Pearson, Lubbock ISD

2010-Louise Sullivan & Becky Geist, Lubbock ISD

2011-Lisa Simmons, Frenship ISD

2012-Shawnda King, Lubbock ISD

2013-Sharon Zumwalt, Lubbock ISD

2014-Tracie Grimshaw, Lubbock ISD

2015-Penni Pennington, Lubbock ISD

2016-Martha Jones, Lubbock ISD

2017-Tina Thompson, Lubbock ISD

2018-Dorothy Tavarez, Lubbock ISD

2019-Donna Bullington, Frenship ISD

2020-Andrea McCallister, Lubbock-Cooper ISD

Previous Teacher of Young Children in a Childcare Honorees

2007-Darnise Austin, Covenant Child Development

2008-Ruby Phenix, Carver Early Learning Center

2009-Bobby Hiracheta, Covenant Child Development

2010-Michelle Hunter, Talkington Early Learning Center

2011-Glen James, Texas Tech Head Start

2012-Jackie Bradshaw, New Directions Early Learning Center

2013-Ana Bosquez, Christ the Kine Early Childhood Development Center

2014-Mary Boone, Christ the King Early Childhood Development Center

2015-Mary Street, Oakwood Methodist Child Development Center

2016-Babs Gamez, Christ the King Early Childhood Development Center

2017-Yolanda Guzman, YWCA Head Start

2018-Virginia Martinez, Guadalupe Early Learning Center

2019-Gracie Sandoval, Sunnyside Learning Academy

2020-Monica Pendgraft, New Directions Early Learning Center


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