Congratulations to our 2019 Power to the Profession Award Winners!

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Idaho AEYC is thrilled to recognize Jeanné Hayden and Heather Lee for their passionate and innovative work to advance early childhood education in Idaho. They will receive their Power to the Profession Awards during Idaho AEYC’s Professional Development Institute on June 15.

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Jeanné Hayden

Jeanné Hayden is the early childhood development director for the Treasure Valley Family YMCA, overseeing seven early childhood programs at 13 locations. Those programs employ more than 105 early childhood educators working with over 400 children. Prior to that role, she was the coordinator for Little Luke’s Early Learning Center, the YMCA’s full-time infant, toddler and preschool program for St. Luke’s employees. She is retiring this spring.

Jeanné has had a powerful impact on her colleagues. Nine of them nominated her for the Power to the Profession Award, citing her dedication to building strong educators and families as well as strong children.

“When Jeanné took over as the early childhood director at the YMCA, she put into place many systems that helped all the coordinators of the different programs have better skills to observe, evaluate, encourage and support the frontline staff,” one wrote. “She trained us in the art of supervision, staff retention, classroom evaluation and curriculum implementation. All these were done with the students in mind, keeping staff focused on child-centered, developmentally appropriate practices and teaching with intention.”

Always striving for high-quality, Jeanné has implemented Conscious Discipline and Frog Street Curriculum in YMCA programs while making the classes available to families. Nominators say she is always on the lookout for training that will support her staff and takes the time to work with educators individually on more difficult situations.

As one nominator states, Jeanné is a “great resource for all things children!”

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Heather Lee

Heather Lee recently became director of the Boise State University Children’s Center, a nationally accredited program that serves more than 150 children from 6 weeks old through preschool. She is also the early STEM education coordinator for the Idaho STEM Action Center, providing outreach to educators and parents across the state. That included establishing the Canyon County Early STEAM Day, an annual event that has provided hands-on activities for almost 1,900 young children, their family members, and the greater community.

Heather has also worked as a teacher, director of a nationally accredited program in Northern Idaho, classroom assessor, teacher mentor, and owner of a STEM preschool.

“Heather's commitment to early childhood and her passion for the profession are truly transformational,” said her nominator for the Power to the Profession Award. “She has inspired teachers to reflect deeply on their instructional practices and conquer their fears of science, technology, engineering, and math.”

By combining relationship building and innovative instructional practices with evidence from early childhood research, Heather has helped teachers and families honor the natural creativity and curiosity of the children in their lives.

We also want to acknowledge the other amazing nominees for this award:

  • Jaymie Belcher, New Horizon Academy

  • Lowell Brooks, White Pine Elementary School

  • Barbara Brown, Hillside Academy

  • Becky Brown, Smart Start Academy

  • Michelle Cole, IdahoSTARS

  • Jessie Davis, IdahoSTARS

  • Teresa Ireland, Teresa’s Childcare

  • Corey Lewis, The Lighthouse Preschool and Child Care Center

  • Holly Manning, Interfaith Sanctuary

  • Julie Mead, Caldwell School District

  • Dionisia Navarro, Puentes Spanish Preschool

  • Karen Pierce, Nature’s Childcare

  • Stephanie Roberge, Singing Hills Nature Preschool

  • Patty Rowan, Parkside School

  • Grace Ruddy, Boise Pre-K Project – Hawthorne Elementary

  • Omair Shamim, Idaho Head Start

  • Rienna Tullos, Little Ropers Preschool & Childcare

  • Brandy Turner, New Horizon Academy

  • Stephanie Tweedie, Paramount Childcare & Early Learning Center

  • Angie Tweit, Kendrick Joint School District

  • Verla Ulrich, All God’s Children Childcare

  • Beth Woodruff, Basin School District