Montgomery County Presents Inaugural Early Care and Education Excellence Awards to Eight Individuals for Their Efforts to Help Young Children

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Care Support Services (CCSS) presented the first Early Care and Education Excellence Awards to eight individuals selected from more than 250 nomination submissions.

The five categories of Early Care and Education Excellence Awards were established in 2023 to recognize and honor those dedicated professionals who work tirelessly every day to ensure that the County’s youngest children (birth to age 5) receive  high quality early care and education.

The winners were Tracey Clay, Jasmyne Crow, Daiane Fernandes, John Fuller, Tiffany Jones, Sianne Nelson, Nazia Saeed and Rossana Espinoza Thorndahl.

“We know  the indispensable role of the early care and education workforce in supporting families and nurturing children,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “It is crucial to recognize and celebrate these often overlooked heroes. The Early Care and Education Excellence Awards serve as a tribute to the unwavering commitment and tireless dedication of our child care professionals who serve a pivitol role in shaping the future of our youngest learners. These educators work diligently to help ensure each child receives the care, attention and guidance required for them to flourish, thereby setting them on a path for a bright tomorrow.”

The 2023 recipients of the Early Care and Education Excellence Awards were publicly recognized and honored by a selection committee comprised of representatives from different childcare organizations. The acknowledgment took place at the 2023 Montgomery County Early Care and Education Fall Conference hosted by CCSS. The ceremony, held at The Universities at Shady Grove, brought together more than 200 educators.

More about the honorees:

  • Tracey Clay, Celebree School of Germantown. Innovative Leadership Excellence Award.
  • Jasmyne Crow, The Lourie Center for Children’s Social & Emotional Wellness. Preschool Educator Excellence Award.
  • Daiane Fernandes, Daiane Fernandes Learning Family Childcare. Infant and Toddler Educator Excellence Award.
  • John Fuller, Kids After Hours, Before and After School. Educator Excellence Award.
  • Tiffany Jones, Precious Moments Family Childcare. Innovative Leadership Excellence Award.
  • Sianne Nelson, Casa de Montessori. Educator Support Professional Excellence Award.
  • Nazia Saeed, Washington Hebrew. Infant and Toddler Educator Excellence Award.
  • Rossana Espinoza Thorndahl, My Home is Your Home Family Childcare. Preschool Educator Excellence Award.

Descriptions of the 2023 Early Care and Education Excellence Awards categories:

  1. Infant and Toddler Educator Excellence Award. Honors a center-based or family child care teacher or assistant teacher who cares for children birth to age 3.
  2. Preschool Educator Excellence Award. Honors a center-based or family child care preschool teacher or assistant teacher who cares for children ages 3-5.
  3. Before and After School Educator Excellence Award. Honors a center-based or family child care teacher or assistant teacher who cares for children before and after the school day.
  4. Educator Support Professional Excellence Award. Honors a center-based or family childcare teacher’s aide or supportive professional who cares for children birth to age 5.
  5. Innovative Leadership Excellence Award. Honors an innovative leader or innovative organization in the early care and education system. This leader/organization works to champion inclusive, equitable and quality policies and practices in the field of early care and education; and considers the needs of the child, family and provider in their scope of leadership.

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