|Jessie Vanden Hogen, Educator of the Year|
We learned this week that preschool teacher Jessie Vanden Hogen has been selected as Educator of the Year by the Boulder chapter of the Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children.
Jessie follows her colleague Christie Stanford who won the award last year. It is the first time in the history of the award that one school has received the Educator of the Year award in back to back years. We are extremely proud of them both.
CAEYC-Boulder sends out requests for nominations to the greater Boulder early childhood education community. This includes all licensed preschools and family childcare centers as well as all members of the organization. Nominations are submitted to Annette Crawford, Recruitment & Training Program Manager with the City of Boulder Family Services. Annette collects all of the nominations and then a committee that is composed of past award winners reviews the nominations and votes to determine the new winner.
This year there was a tie for Educator of the Year. Both Jessie and Michael Knuckey, from Children’s House Preschool, will receive the award. The award ceremony will be held next week on April 9th at Boulder Country Day School. A number of Jessie’s colleagues will be in attendance.
As part of Jessie’s nomination, one of her colleagues wrote:
“Jessie ignites the love of learning and the beginning understanding of the concept of school. Imbedded in her classroom are rich opportunities where children can develop a vast toolbox of social-emotional skills that will be necessary for their entire lives both in and out of school.
Jessie is a strong resource for parents. They trust her advice that she shares without judgment.
Jessie’s classroom is an active and alive place for children. Her expectations are age-appropriate and the heart and soul of each child is valued and supported in each individual learning journey. In her classroom children thrive!”
True to who Jessie is, she feels that there are other equally deserving educators in Boulder. She is happy to accept what she calls this great honor because it will bring attention to the importance of early childhood education.
Upon hearing of her award, Jessie shared the news with her family: her two brothers who both live in Australia, her parents back home in Wisconsin, and her sister in Lafayette. Simultaneously, the whole family raised a glass to celebrate across the miles.
Jessie also shared the news with her godmother who in turn sent it on to Lucy Jentz. Lucy was Jessie’s own preschool teacher at the Peace Nursery School in Wisconsin, a school that belonged to the organization ECHO (Early CHildhood Organization) with the creed “ECHO: Each Child Happens Once.” Jessie’s favorite memory of her own preschool experience was being out in the parking lot with a paintbrush and a bucket of water, painting the stripes so they would shine!
Jessie credits the co-teachers she has had over her 17 years at Friends’ School. She and Christie were hired on the same day (a really good day for Friends’!) From her colleagues, she has learned so much, including storytelling. If you have ever heard Jessie tell stories to children (or adults for that matter) you know how gifted she is.
Jessie says she began her teaching career as a way to support her music career. She plays violinand used to play with various bands all around the Boulder area. One of her ‘gigs’ was playing at a Friends’ School elementary Silver and Gold celebration. It was the first time she ever heard of the school. She listened to the speeches that the graduating fifth graders were giving and realized that this school was a magical place. She heard the kids’ reflective words and wished she had gone to school here!
Later, when a preschool teaching position opened up, she jumped at the chance to apply. Now she says her music supports her teaching. She is thrilled to be at a school that places so much emphasis on play, on social-emotional intelligence, on community, on humor, on teaching empathy and resilience, and on supporting children through both their successes and their disappointments. She loves being at a place that supports her own growth as a learner and an educator.
Hundreds of children have benefitted from the magic and the love that Jessie brings to her classroom. She still loves coming to school every day and we are thrilled that she has been honored as Educator of the Year.
As her sister texted to her last night: “Congrats Jessie. What an amazing honor that you so deserve. That is so special. You should be so proud of yourself. Ha. I'm damn proud of you!!!”
All of us at Friends’ are proud of her too!