Why do we give Lasting Legacy Scholarships?
Each year, NAEYC’s Lasting Legacy Scholarship program sends two cohorts of early childhood educators to our Professional Learning Institute and Annual Conference. The scholars come from early education centers, school districts, community colleges, and universities. They may be involved in direct care or designing curriculum for educators. They have in common a desire to be more – to do more – for the profession.
NAEYC’s goal is to grow the next generation of leaders in the early childhood education profession. Lasting Legacy Scholarships often make attending the conference possible when institutional or personal funds aren't available. Atendees tell us they benefit from education in a specific area, encouragement to reach further and the networking opportunities. We hope that those selected for scholarships are inspired to advocate for best ECE practices wherever they work and that they share those practices with colleagues, families and students. Someday, scholars may be in a position to make policy improvements at the local, state and national levels. Simply put, scholarships help build visionaries.
The Lasting Legacy Selection Committee spent August reviewing more than 240 Lasting Legacy Scholarship applications and chose ten emerging ECE leaders who received scholarships to NAEYC’s Annual Conference. The group is geographically, professionally and culturally diverse, but all share an enthusiasm for the field and were inspired to take on new leadership in the field.
We offer a special thank you to our Scholarship Selection Committee for their countless hours of reviewing applications. It is one of the ways our volunteers demonstrate their commitment to our members.
We also give heartfelt thanks to those of you who donated to the Lasting Legacy Scholarships. Your gifts encourage all those who applied and are actively engaged in making themselves the best early childhood educators possible. The next generation is depending on all of us.
Below you'll find reflections from our most recent Lasting Legacy Scholars:
I quickly learned that the NAEYC conference is what you make of it. In just four days, I was able to attend sessions on a broad variety of subjects, all supporting different aspects of my work. I was also able to collaborate with others across disciplines and state lines, providing me with new perspectives into our many accomplishments as well as the challenges we face as a unified workforce. From home-based centers to higher education, early childhood education is a diverse field with many access points...we all have value, and we all need a seat at the table. For these reasons, I felt both honored and humbled to have spent a few brief days among so many individuals who care so much about the work of teaching young children, my fellow scholars included. To advance the field, we need spaces to connect and find our collective voice, and NAEYC helps create them. I hope to attend the conference again some day, but until then, my participation in this year’s conference has left me feeling empowered to do my best work. It has also given me insight into the ways I might become more involved at the state and national level to help elevate the profession and promote the changes that our children, families, and educators so desperately need. I am extremely grateful to NAEYC and Kaplan for the experience, and am excited to see where it will lead me in the years to come. — Ian Schiefelbein, New Mexico (Hal Kaplan Emerging Leader Scholar)
I feel so lucky to have been a part of such an amazing group. I couldn't have asked for a better experience for my first conference. I felt so welcomed by NAEYC staff and really felt part of a special group with my fellow scholars. I really enjoyed all the different session tracks that I attended, I gained new information and insights into my job as an early childhood educator that I'll be able to share with my colleagues and implement into my classroom. Two things really made my experience exceptional, first was getting to meet so many like-minded people, connecting and networking with not only our group of scholars but educators from around the country. I was able to learn more about work being done in other states within the state affiliate and get some ideas on how I can make more of an impact in my state. The second takeaway for me were all the ways that we can become more involved within NAEYC. I'm really excited to join an interest group and look into peer reviewing for conference training proposals and to share this information within my community to get more people involved with NAEYC. Overall this was a fantastic experience and I look forward to attending future conferences and staying connected with everyone on the important work you are all doing! — Caitlin Curtis, Oregon
Thank you so much for all the work you did to get us scholars to this year's conference. It was such a wonderful experience and one that I will cherish for a lifetime. I returned home excited to share and put into practice all that I learned. My time at the conference fueled my passion for early childhood education as well as emboldened me to think of new ways I could serve the education community. I am so grateful to have been chosen this year and very thankful for all the kindness you showed to me during my time at the conference. — Keena Gentry, Washington (Jerlean Daniel Lasting Legacy Scholar)
It was an honor to be a part of this group and I am excited to follow us through the coming years and see the difference that we make! I am leaving the conference with a long list of to-do's: practical ideas such as making my registration form more inclusive and sharing new transition ideas with my staff, mindset changes such as regularly asking myself who is not represented and why, and career goals such as submitting work to be published in Teaching Young Children. I have already found myself using and sharing concepts that I learned in the general sessions, such as better ways to communicate with and understand millennial parents and the importance of implementing a program quality evaluation tool. I am encouraged and motivated to put these new lessons into practice. I am grateful for the access provided by the NAEYC leadership, and in awe of the work and dedication shown by them and so many other leaders in the field. — Allison VanLoon, Minnesota (Gera Jacobs Lasting Legacy Scholar; above, left)
My first ever NAEYC conference was such a success and dream come true. The sessions will help me grow as an educator. Being around so many people with the same passion was exciting. You could feel it while walking through the Music City Center. I was honored and humbled to be a Lasting Legacy Scholar. That was the best part of this entire experience — being able to meet so many amazing people and making new connections. The scholarship opportunity allowed me to meet my Arizona affiliate. This is just a stepping stone, continuing my journey in ECE. I am hopeful for the future and look forward to making a difference. — Daniella Barreras (on left)
My experience at the NAEYC Annual Conference was incredible. I had the opportunity to learn from people from all around the world doing some amazing work in the field of early childhood education. The scholarship provided the opportunity to learn and grow, but also the opportunity to connect on a more personal level with members of the NAEYC board and with fellow scholarship winners. I left the conference feeling inspired and I am happy to say I left with many new friends. I was blown away by the other scholarship winners and what they have/will accomplish. The experiences I had were once in a lifetime and I made connections that will help me throughout my career. — Leah Catching, California
Attending the NAEYC Annual conference this year showed me how I fit within the field of early childhood education as a whole. I was able to meet researchers and presenters whose focus is on early math and science and I left with ideas for my own research. Attending the NAECTE morning conference allowed me to see how my work can find a place among other researchers and teacher educators. Participating in special interest forums for early math and science gave me clear directions in how I can participate within NAEYC. Sessions and poster presentations were a wonderful way to engage in current work in the field. And of course, events with fellow Lasting Legacy Scholars started new connections and energy around the work that scholars are engaged in. I left with clear directions in my engagement in NAEYC and the field, and see myself attending this conference whenever possible for a long time. — David Banzer, Illinois
It was great to meet all of you and get to know that there are other people in the field that have similar interests as I do. The more I reflected on the most important things that I got from this experience the more I realized that meeting all of you was one of them. I also had the opportunity to attend some interest forums meetings and meet people in the field who are passionate about advocating for children. I have a list of the things that I want to do as well and I have already started working on some of them. I have incorporated some of my learnings in my work already. One of the things that I am going to do soon is continue working on one of my passions, writing for children, which I have put aside for a long while but during the conference I attended the children’s book authors’ session and it inspired me to go back and look back at the work I have done before and I am definitely going to work on them and hopefully publish them in the near future. I am so grateful for the opportunities. — Narges Sareh, Tennessee
As I was flying home and reflecting on the many exciting things that took place over the past week. I reflected on the people I met, sessions that educated (wish there were more leadership sessions), conversations that inspired and connections that sparked excitement. But I realized my biggest take away was linked with the release of the Diversity and Equity Position Statement. The 2019 Legacy Scholars all come from different parts of the world, different backgrounds, educational journeys, nationalities, experiences, ages and careers in early childhood. However, we all have a deep burning passion for all children to be treated equally and fairly. The 2019 Legacy Scholars represent equity and diversity and I am proud to be part of this amazing group of early childhood professionals and call everyone colleagues, but more importantly friends. Thank you NAEYC for an amazing first experience at the national conference. Thank you Legacy Scholars for being who you are! I hope we can keep in touch and have a reunion! — Michelle Grantham-Caston, Louisiana
I think it is important to tell you how inspired I am by you all. First, the overall sense of community was so refreshing. We are a group of people that come from different parts of the country and work in a variety of settings. But it was so refreshing to know that you all are committed to the exact same thing that I am. Because at the end of the day, no matter where we work or who we work for, we want the absolute best for our "babies", the kiddos that are under our wing everyday. Secondly, you all inspire me to be better. You inspire me to grow my capacity as a leader. To accept nothing less than the best from my staff, and to hire staff that are no less committed to ECE than you all. And to fight for even more for my community, my state, and young children everywhere. Your passion is contagious, and it stoked a fire in me that I hope never subsides. — Jason Sims, South Carolina
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