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Champions for Children

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 Early Childhood Education, Teacher of Young Children in an ISD, The Robbie McGrew Memorial Honoree and the Champion for Children Honoree.

Champion for Children Honorees

Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic

This year’s Champion for Children recipient is the Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic.

The Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic provides the full scope of pediatric healthcare, regardless of income or insurance. The Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic is meeting people where they’re at when it comes to healthcare.

As a medical home for children, they provide immunizations, well checks and on-site labs. Alongside the basic services, Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic auxiliary services provide pharmacy vouchers, diapers, nutritional education, an eyeglass clinic, a mother’s milk bank drop, Food is Medicine food boxes, and free counseling for mental and behavior health.

As the Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic works to eliminate healthcare barriers, Executive Director, Nedra Hotchkins, is working to make sure every child has a medical home. She says they’re providing a medical home for children and the things they may need to be the best they can be.

The Lubbock Children’s Health Clinic continues to grow in the Lubbock community. Mrs. Hotchkins says, “I think our role in the community is the foundation piece and we want people to utilize our resources. There’s no other clinic like ours here, but we’re open to everyone, regardless of income, insurance, language, etc. We are providing hope for families and real results in real time.”

Robbie McGrew Memorial Honoree

Susan Ford

This award is given to someone in our community who works or advocates on behalf of young children.

Grandma Susan Ford with the Foster Grandparent Program has been an advocate for children for many years. Before coming to Lubbock, Ms. Ford lived in Michigan where she worked in early childhood education.

Ms. Ford is passionate about advocating and working with children. “These children are so innocent and sweet. We need to protect them, and I want to do my part in that.”

As a Foster Grandma, Ms. Ford says she’s there to help with the children and show them love and compassion when they may be missing it at home. She loves to comfort the children and help them make better choices in the future.

Her favorite memory of being a Foster Grandma is these two children she saw through to kindergarten. She saw them out one time and both children ran up to her and said “Grandma!” and now her own grandchild gets to be friends with those two children.

Ms. Ford says her time as a Foster Grandma has impacted her as well as the children she helps. She says, “Children don’t see color, they just see a person who gives love and attention when they need it most. It makes me feel good that I had a part in helping them growing up and learn. I feel like I did something to help them.”

Teacher of Young Children In An ISD

Lorena Miranda-Perez

Lorena Miranda-Perez is the Teacher of Young Children in an ISD for 2023. Ms. Miranda-Perez is a Dual Language Kindergarten teacher at Lubbock-Cooper Central Elementary School.

Ms. Miranda-Perez has been teaching for 9 years and she started her career early with her mom who worked in the education system with the after-school care children. As Ms. Miranda-Perez finished up her studies, she had the opportunity to study abroad which she says changed her life. For many children, language may be a barrier that prevents them from receiving the same education as other children.

Ms. Miranda-Perez’s greatest joy while working in her classroom with her children is finally seeing them realize they can reach the goals they set and telling her “You’re right, I can do it!”

Ms. Miranda-Perez said, “Working with children helped me realize how much they can change my own life. They make me stop and think, ‘How can I do this to better to connect with them?” She is working on finding the right avenue to connect with children and she hopes she can help children fall in love with learning, despite the challenges they may face.

Ms. Miranda-Perez, you are truly making a difference in the lives of young children. Thank you! 

Teacher of Young Children In Early Childhood Education

Vanessa Rivera

This year’s Teacher of Young Children in Early Childhood Education is Vanessa Rivera, the Cook with Guadalupe Early Learning Center

Ms. Rivera has worked at Early Learning Centers for 11 years. She will tell you she was inspired by our very own, Ms. Ruby Phenix. She says Ms. Phenix’s passion and love for her children inspired her to work with children at Early Learning Centers.

Ms. Rivera loves that she can see all the children learn and grow in her center. Her greatest joy is getting to see children grow from the nursery to sending them off to kindergarten. Ms. Rivera even had the opportunity to watch her own children grow through Early Learning Centers!

She takes pride in knowing she has a part in preparing young children for successful futures by preparing them healthy meals and snack each day as well as working in the classrooms. When asked about her impact on the children she said “They make me a better person. I understand every child is different and it helps me see the world around them better.”

Vanessa, you embody the mission of Early Learning Centers while 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

2021 – Literacy Lubbock

2022 – Parkhill, McDougal Companies, Plains Capital Bank

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!

2021 – Helen Liggett, Tiny Tots, Read A Lot!

2022 – State Representative John Frullo

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

2021 – Naomi Ortiz, Lubbock ISD

2022 – Keri Henderson, Frenship ISD

Previous Teacher of Young Children in Early Childhood Education 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 King 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

2021 – Lorraine Bliss, Learning Tree Children’s Academy

2022 – Jazmine Smalts, Guadalupe Early Learning Center

Join the Early Learning Centers of Lubbock Family

We would love to help your child reach those oh, so important milestones in life.

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