Gwinnett Tech Teacher & Student Recognized as Best of the Year by Association on Young Children
GAYC Honors Smith, Hoster as Exceptional Early Childhood Professionals
A teacher and student from Gwinnett Technical College were honored as the 'best of the year' before nearly 300 professionals at the annual awards ceremony of the Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC) this month. In the 16 years that GAYC has had an awards program, this is only the second time that both the educator of the year and the student of the year are from the same school.
Priscilla Smith, B.S., M.S., Ed.S., Ph.D., was named Educator of the Year for professional excellence as Gwinnett Tech's program director for early childhood care and education. Gwinnett Tech early childhood care and education student Shelley Hoster was named Student of the Year for her outstanding academic and other accomplishments in the program.
"The professionals chosen for the GAYC Quality Service Awards have made a unique contribution to the field of early childhood throughout the past year," said Dr. Pat Minish, GAYC executive director. "Priscilla and Shelley and the other nine award winners model best practices and professional dedication on behalf of children and families throughout Georgia on a daily basis."
The Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC) is a non-profit membership organization that promotes quality early care and education for young children. GAYC is the state affiliate of the Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC sets the standards for the early childhood field and accredits child care programs internationally.
"We already know what a treasure we have in Priscilla Smith and the students she educates through the outstanding early childhood care and education program on this campus," said Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Rigsby. "It's rewarding to see these educators and students applauded for the hard work they put into the program and their profession. We are truly proud of Priscilla and Shelley for their accomplishments and this recognition."
Smith joined Gwinnett Tech as the early childhood care and education program director when the college introduced the program in 2003. Before joining Gwinnett Tech, Smith worked for nearly three decades as a teacher and administrator in the early childhood education field. She earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Georgia, her education specialist-early childhood administration certification from Western Illinois University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. In just the three years that Smith has been at the college, Gwinnett Tech's early childhood care and education program has not only grown from 11 to 200+ students; but it has also designed and built a model, state-of-the-art learning and training facility. Smith has been instrumental in developing the staffing and curriculum for this new facility, the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center on Gwinnett Tech's campus. The college's new 26,000 square-foot Center provides students studying early childhood education at Gwinnett Tech a hands-on experience in a quality learning environment, while simultaneously serving as a nurturing educational center for children aged 6 weeks to 12 years.
Hoster, 35, also recently brought home the gold medal in the national SkillsUSA competition in the preschool teaching category, and received a Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation scholarship for her academic success and community service. Hoster had been in the early childhood field for more than a dozen years before enrolling in Gwinnett Tech to continue her formal education. Her achievement in the program and overall success in the field helped her secure a full-time position as an early childhood education specialist with the college's new D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center.
A third GAYC award winner also has ties to Gwinnett Tech. Independent education consultant Trudy Friar, one of the 14 members on the GTC early childhood advisory board, was honored as trainer of the year for her significant contribution to the early education training field.
For more information on Gwinnett Tech's outstanding instructors and students, or on the early childhood care and education program offered by Gwinnett Tech, call 770-962-7580 or visit www.GwinnettTech.edu.