Jan 31, 2017
Let's Grow Kids
Let’s Grow Kids has recognized four Vermonters as Early Childhood Superheroes for going above and beyond to help young children reach their full potential. The honorees include:

Kelley Hackett, of Waterbury Center, is the owner of Kelley’s DayBreak Childcare, a home-based child care program. In addition to being a business owner, parent and child care provider, Kelley has volunteered in her community for many years and is admired for having built a strong community centered around early childhood. As the leader of the Washington West Starting Points Network, Kelley leads a group of local early childhood professionals who take initiative through leadership, professional development and peer support to encourage, learn and grow together. She previously served as Co-President of The Children’s Room, a non-profit providing free services to families with young children in Central Vermont and previously mentored fellow child care providers through her work 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. She enjoys working with families to identify individual goals for their children's development and then weaving those varied goals into activities that are age-appropriate for her diverse crew of children who range in age from 10 months to 9 years old. Tammara loves to watch the joy in the children's faces when they learn new things and realize they can do something independently that they had been working hard on. Tammara says, ““My hope is for all children to have high-quality opportunities to grow and develop—to play and be curious for as long as possible!”

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. One parent described the positive impact Dayna had on her adopted daughter who had been neglected as an infant and suffered from attachment issues as a result. Thanks to Dayna’s dedication and compassion, this parent says her daughter began “to learn that she could trust adults and have healthy relationships with them.” Dayna says her primary focus is to create a caring and respectful environment. “Building trusting relationships is the foundation of my work,” she said. 

Ikey Spear, of Burlington, 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. Ikey also works with parents, some of whom also face homelessness, to support them in addressing the impact of domestic violence on their children. Ikey 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.
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.


Dayna is truly a superhero both in and out of the classroom. She is compassionate and kind . She is truly nurturing and in all that she has to do she does more . Reaching higher personally so that she can provide the environment that encourages live and commitment . I read " a good leader is not one that gives orders but rather a leader brings out the brilliance in others and encourages them to shine. Dayna is a true leader . Thank you for share your goals with all of us.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.