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Tuesday October 20, 2015 Edition
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New Haven Resident Gerri Barrows Named 2015 Early Educator of the Year

Tuesday October 20, 2015

   New Haven resident and early educator, Geralyn "Gerri" Barrows, received the Permanent Fund for Vermont's Children 2015 Early Educator of the Year Award. Rick Davis, co-founder of the Permanent Fund, presented Barrows with the award at the 2015 VAEYC Conference in Killington on October 16. Barrows began her early childhood education career in 1983 and is the long-time owner of Discovery Hill Family Child Care and Preschool. This is the first year of the Early Educator of the Year Award, which was created by the Permanent Fund to recognize excellence in the teaching of Vermont's young children.
 In her 30-plus years in the field, Gerri has seen many changes in the early childhood landscape and has risen to the top in the field," said Rick Davis, co-founder of the Permanent Fund for Vermont's Children. "She continues to push Vermont's early education system to be better."
 The award selection committee was impressed by Barrows' long-time dedication to the early childhood field and the level of caring she has for the children and families she works with.
   Barrows is a practitioner of the Reggio-inspired approach to early learning. At Discovery Hill, the tables, chairs and even the playground are made out of wood and other natural materials. The children use real glasses and silverware during snacking and lunch times.
   "I believe that providing an environment that reflects beauty and natural materials for young children is important...I try to create an environment that encourages a child's independence and exploration and allows him or her to learn naturally through their play," said Barrows.
   The Discovery Hill program has received national accreditation from the National Association of Family Child Care and all five STARS in Vermont's STep Ahead Recognition System.   
"Besides parents, early educators are a child' first teacher," said Davis. "Their work lays such an important foundation for a child's growth and future."
    As the 2015 Early Educator of the Year, Barrows received a $5,000 award from the Permanent Fund and all expenses paid to attend the VAEYC conference and one national conference. The award finalist, Shelburne's Elsa Bosma of Puddle Jumpers, received $1,000 and all expenses paid to attend the VAEYC conference. VAEYC is the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children.
  In this first year of the award, the Permanent Fund accepted nominations for home-based providers who: have at least 4 STARS in Vermont's STep Ahead Recognition System; have been in business for three years or more; demonstrate a commitment to professional, quality early education programs; include innovative approaches to a child's learning, social emotional development and physical growth; are committed to furthering their own education in childhood development; and, serve as a resource to the families they work with.

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