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Meet the Interactions Scholarship Winners

14 Jul 2014 by Lisa Rogoff

Whether we work directly with children, support teachers, create regional or state policy, or build professional development programs, it can be easy to let our day-to-day responsibilities trump the significance of our work. As Teachstone’s Product Marketing Director, I spend time each week observing and talking with our market—teachers, T/TAs, center directors, program directors, policymakers—and trying to understand their challenges. Without fail, I am always moved by these colleagues’ hard work and commitment to supporting young children; these conversations are what make my job rewarding. But during these interviews, I often notice that these individuals aren’t quite as moved by their grit as I am. They are worn down by bureaucracy or funding challenges, in a routine, or just tired from years of demanding and often thankless work.

It’s rare that they have a chance to step back from their hectic schedules and reflect on why they do what they do everyday. This year, many of these professionals across Head Start had the chance to do just this by applying for the Teachstone-NHSA Interactions Scholarship Fund. Applicants answered questions about how they would use the scholarship and related training to improve practice within their centers and agencies, and most important, they took the time to reflect upon why interactions are so important.

“Having been in the early childhood education field for nearly 18 years, I have witnessed first hand the importance of how respect, having conversations, laughing with children, solving problems together, using rich vocabulary, and asking questions can provide a secure learning foundation for a child.”

– Stephanie Bolin, Education & Family Services Coordinator, Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council

“Head Start’s mission to break the cycle of poverty compels us to provide a comprehensive program that meets children’s emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs. We seek to give children an advantage, a 'head start,' and teacher-child interactions do precisely that. It is vital that our agency seek to support our teachers in improving their interactions in order to be most effective at improving outcomes for our children.”

– Kellie Holcomb, Education Resource Specialist, Community Action Partnership of North Alabama

Stephanie and Kellie’s reflections provide a window into the thoughtful and inspiring answers we received from Head Start grantees around the country. Please take a moment to get to know our eight Interactions Scholars who represent six, regions, eight states, and a variety of positions within their agencies. I hope you’ll have a chance to see why teacher-child interactions are so important to each of them, and like me you’ll be inspired by their dedication and hard work.