Early childhood educators honored

May 13, 2010

Abigail Adams Eliot, a Massachusetts social worker and the founder of early childhood education in the United States, would have been proud of Judith Sabola ’80, ’01 and Roni Anthony ’89. Their peers certainly are. The two GCC alumni were presented Abigail Adams Eliot Awards by the Franklin County Collaborative for Children (FCCC), a collaboration between Greenfield Community College, Community Action!, Greenfield Girls Club, and area Family Support and Community Engagement programs.

Award winner Roni Anthony

The awards honor outstanding service to children and families. Anthony received the Abigail Adams Eliot Award for an educator working directly with children and families in a family child care or early childhood program. Anthony, of Northfield, teaches in the Early Childhood program at the Girls Club in Greenfield.  Sabola received a new Abigail Adams Eliot Award for a program manager or supervisor who has made a significant impact on the field of Early Childhood through their work with staff, parents, families and/or the community. Sabola, of Sunderland, is the Education Site Supervisor for the Washington Street Pre-School, a Headstart/ CommunityAction Parent-Child Development Center in Greenfield.

Kim Audette, Coordinator of the Building Careers in Education Program at GCC, said “The awards recognize people in a field that is often underappreciated. Judith and Roni both have been in the field for over 20 years and are incredibly well respected by their peers. These awards are a sign of respect and appreciation for wonderful people in our area who are committed to the growth and development of children. It’s no accident that both of this year’s awardees are GCC graduates. GCC’s Early Childhood Education program is an important resource for our area and most of the attendees at the award event have been students at GCC.”

Roni Anthony ’89 received an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from GCC and a bachelors degree in education from Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, VT, and has worked at the Girls Club since the late 1980s. She and two coworkers have been teaching a class of 15-month to 3-year-olds together for over ten years. Anthony loves that age group. She said, “Our students go from being almost nonverbal and barely walking to speaking in full sentences, playing well with others, and realizing there’s more to the world. People don’t always recognize that what we do is very hard work.” Anthony found learning in elementary and high school to be very challenging. That changed when she went to GCC. Kate Finnegan, Anne Wiley, and Nancy Winters all taught to Roni’s learning style and were very supportive of her.

Award winner Judith Saboda

Judith Sabola ’80,’01, received associate’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Early Childhood Education from GCC and is finishing up a bachelor’s degree this summer at UMASS. She loves GCC, saying, “GCC makes education comfortable. The learning environment at GCC is unique; each student is genuinely cared about as an individual, and there is tremendous support from advisors.” Sabola worked in Sunderland’s Preschool Inclusion Program for over nine years and then took a lead teacher position for Head Start. She said, “I love the philosophy as it is rooted in developmentally appropriate practice. We take an account of each individual child and work to improve children’s health and physical development. Utilizing a team approach, we partner closely with our children’s parents. These partnerships bring a real sense of satisfaction in that, working together, we can make a difference and enhance children’s quality of life.” After being a lead teacher, she became an Education Site Supervisor, supervising seven staff members who work with 30 three to five-year-olds. In her position, she provides support and guidance for teachers, children, and parents, and trains and mentors community volunteers.

For information about GCC’s Early Childhood Education Program, contact Kim Audette at audettek@gcc.mass.edu or 413-775-1270.

By Mary McClintock, ’82