Two University of Nevada, Reno faculty were selected from a field of 51 nominees across the state as the Early Childhood Educators of the Year by the Nevada Department of Education. This is the first year the department has recognized teachers for the award.
The two childcare workers, Kaitlin Cortes and Avis Moore, work for UNR’s College of Education & Human Development in the college’s Child and Family Research Center (CFRC).
Moore was selected as the infant/toddler teacher of the year. She works in in the Early Head Start program which includes children from birth to 3 years old. She has been at the CFRC for 21 years and teaching for 30.
“Working at Early Head Start opened my eyes to the potential impact I could make in the life of not only a child, but an entire family,” Moore said. “I love what I do, and I feel grateful that families trust me to help them maneuver through the early years of their child’s life.”
Officials at the Nevada Department of Education said Moore’s commitment to partnership was key in her selection.
“What especially stood out is the emphasis she places on partnering and building relationships with families, which was a consistent theme that jumped out to us in her application, her interview, and in the letters submitted from the families she works with,” Kaitlin Lewallen of NDE said.
Cortes has worked at the CFRC for five years as a pre-K teacher with children ages 3-5.
She said she sees the award as an opportunity to help develop other early childhood education professionals.
“I have always believed that every child is a complete person worthy of respect and love,” she said. “I look forward to participating in research and work that allows me to encourage future early childhood teachers, both in my current program and throughout the field.”
“Kaitlin was selected because of her passion for continuous growth and learning and commitment to improving the early childhood field and larger system by pursuing a graduate degree, working with University staff to develop diversity curriculum and advocacy for early childhood professionals as well as quality access of care for children through a stronger teacher pipeline,” Lewallen added.
In addition to donation packages from Lakeshore Learning and The Children’s Cabinet, both awardees will represent early childhood education in Nevada as ambassadors and thought leaders throughout the 2021-22 school year.