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
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 Libraries. 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 read at sites, they continued to supply books to the regular sites and moved story times online. 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
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 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 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
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
2019-Family Guidance and Outreach Center
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