Feb 02, 2017Burlington Free Press
Let’s Grow Kids has announced that Burlington resident Ikey Spear is one of four Vermonters to be recognized as Early Childhood Superheroes for going above and beyond to help young children reach their full potential.
Spear has spent almost 20 years improving the lives of children in her community through her work as the Children’s Service Coordinator at Steps to End Domestic Violence (formerly Women Helping Battered Women).
The children’s programs at Steps to End Domestic Violence provide a place for children who have been affected by domestic violence to access one-on-one support and therapeutic playgroups. Spear also works with parents, some of whom also face homelessness, to support them in addressing the impact of domestic violence on their children.
She is known for her warmth and generosity. Hundreds of kids receive gifts on Christmas because of her holiday giving program and the generosity of those in the community who contribute year after year. Frequently, children she’s helped come back to the program years later to say thank you for the difference she made in their lives.
Ikey says, “Kids are incredibly creative, resourceful, and resilient. At the shelter, it makes me proud to see children learn and grow in new ways when in a safe environment.”
The selection of Early Childhood Superheroes followed a statewide call for nominations of unsung heroes among educators, child care professionals, parents, grandparents, volunteers, business peoples, policymakers, civic leaders and clergy. From the nominations, a panel of early childhood experts representing Building Bright Futures, Vermont Birth to Five, the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance and Let’s Grow Kids selected four Vermonters from various regions of the state who have demonstrated a commitment to the success of Vermont’s youngest children through “above and beyond” contributions to children’s lives.
“Early Childhood Superheroes work tirelessly to make sure our kids get the strong foundation they need for future success in school, relationships, work and life. They’re committed to ensuring every child gets an equal chance in life, and they deserve our respect and gratitude for all they do to support Vermont’s youngest children,” said Let’s Grow Kids Campaign Director Robyn Freedner-Maguire.
The other Vermonters chosen for this round of Early Childhood Superheroes were:
- Kelley Hackett of Waterbury Center, who runs a home-based child care program called Kelley’s DayBreak Childcare and heads up the Washington West Starting Points Network, where she leads a group of local early childhood professionals who take initiative through leadership, professional development and peer support. She previously mentored fellow child care providers with Vermont Birth to Five. Kelley says: “I love the strong community network and bond with the families I serve. They become an extended piece of my own family.”
- Tammara Laraway of Morrisville, the owner and director of TT’s Tots, has made a positive impact on her community by collaborating with other early childhood service providers to provide quality care for the children she serves, who range in age from 10 months to 9 years old.
- Dayna Mazzola of Bennington is a special education preschool teacher who’s spent the last 19 years going above and beyond the school day to build lasting relationships with the children and families she serves. She uses her training, expertise and collaboration with team members to help children develop to their fullest potential.
Let’s Grow Kids continues to seek nominations to join the ranks of Early Childhood Superheroes through an online nomination form: http://www.letsgrowkids.org/nominate-superhero.
About Let’s Grow Kids
Let’s Grow Kids is a public awareness and engagement campaign about the important role that high-quality, affordable child care can play in supporting the healthy development of Vermont’s children during their first five years—the most important years for laying a foundation for future success in relationships, school and life. Let’s Grow Kids is working with Vermont communities, organizations, businesses and individuals to create positive lasting change that will allow all of our children to succeed in life. Let’s Grow Kids is an initiative of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children with support from the A.D. Henderson Foundation and the Turrell Fund.