At the 8th annual Early Educator Appreciation Forum at Belle Notte Restaurant in Bernardston on April 28, two Franklin county early childhood educators were honored with the Abigail Adams Eliot award for outstanding service to young children and their families. This award is given to both an administrator and to a practicing educator who provides service in a family child care, group day care or public school pre-school. It was developed by the Franklin County Collaboration for Children, a partnership of Greenfield Community College, area CFCE Coordinators, Greenfield Girls Club and Community Action programs to honor those outstanding individuals in the field.
The awards are presented as part of an evening of learning, networking and dinner for Franklin County early childhood educators and family child care providers. Nominations are made by parents, supervisors, peers, faculty and other community members. This year’s event was sponsored through grants from Stop ‘n’ Shop, B.J.’s and the Department of Early Education and Care.
The award to an outstanding administrator: Ms. Ellen Edson
The Administrator Award went to Ms. Ellen Edson who has devoted 30+ years of her professional life to making a difference for children and their families within the fields of early childhood and elementary education. She has served as a preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade teacher in both head start and the public schools. For the past 12 years she has been the Early childhood Coordinator for the Pioneer Valley Regional School district and more recently added the principal ship of the Warwick Community School to her responsibilities.
To paraphrase Pioneer Valley’s superintendent Doyle Doiron: Ellen is the consummate professional educator. She is a leading proponent for young children and their families, building strong connections with families and promoting equity, diversity and inclusionary practices in the classroom. Ellen enthusiastically seizes every opportunity to enhance and refine her impressive range of skills and competencies, serving as a role model for everyone she supervises. She is an articulate and persuasive spokesperson for the youngest learners and has garnered the respect and appreciation of her colleagues, students, families and the communities she serves.
The award to an outstanding educator: Ms. Elizabeth Potter
Our second award of the evening went to Ms. Elizabeth Potter, another wonderful woman who has also served the children and families of Franklin County for over 30 years. Beginning as a toddler teacher she went on to serve as a preschool teacher, home day care provider, preschool director in both private and public school settings, and now as a kindergarten and first grade teacher in Greenfield public schools. She is also an incredible community service leader who has opened her heart to folks at the homeless shelter, volunteered at the Conway Elementary School, and served as organizer of the Conway Festival of the Hills. She has also served as a mentor and role model for many other teachers and colleagues.
Words that her nominators used to describe her: “gifted and amazing teacher” – “students adore her” – “sensitive, respectful, caring and concerned individual” – “finds the good in ALL students” – “makes learning fun” – “is incredibly creative” – “has reached out to every family and made them feel welcomed and appreciated” – “fiercely committed.” And probably the highest praise: “Her students adore her as well as their parents.”