The GAEYC Child Educator of the Year award honors outstanding educators in center-based programs and schools who demonstrate exemplary work with children. Nominations are accepted for three different awards each year.

  • The small center award goes to an outstanding educator in a center with fewer than 50 children enrolled
  • The large center award goes to an outstanding educator in a center with 50 or more children enrolled
  • The school award goes to an outstanding educator in a public or private school early childhood program

Award criteria

Recipients of the GAEYC Child Educator of the Year award must meet the following criteria:

  • GAEYC member*
  • Outstanding employee at a  child care center or school who demonstrates exemplary work with children

*Know a qualified educator who is not yet a GAEYC member? Joining is easy, and GAEYC members receive many benefits.

Recipients of the GAEYC Child Educator of the Year award

  • 2016: Darius Phelps (large center)

darius-phelpsDarius Phelps is the lead teacher in the infant classroom at the University of Georgia’s Child Development Lab at the McPhaul Center. He routinely goes above and beyond to provide enriching experiences for the children in his classroom. From field trips around the UGA campus to fun sensory activities, Darius keeps his classroom fun, exciting, and engaging. He puts countless hours into each child’s progress report and regularly meets with parents to discuss developmental milestones and the progress the children are making in his class. Darius’ professionalism and commitment is obvious through his efforts to engage families by inviting parents to participate in the classroom and organizing events to help connect families. Not only is he amazing with children and parents, but he manages to go above and beyond as a teacher while balancing additional graduate level coursework as he works towards a Master of Education degree. Darius is an outstanding teacher demonstrating exemplary work, an immense love for children, and a commitment to the field of education.

  • 2016: Billie Walker (small center)

billie-walkerBillie Walker serves as the Early Childhood Education Director at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter (ACS). Billie has been an early childhood educator for almost 15 years and has dedicated her career to ensuring that some of our most vulnerable children – homeless children under the age of 5 – receive free, high quality early childhood education during their most formative years. Since 2007, she has helped over 700 homeless children from over 500 homeless families achieve their developmental milestones while a teacher at ACS. Her personal connection with homelessness, domestic violence, shelter life, and the challenges created by the lack of affordable quality child care in Metro Atlanta has fueled her work. Billie instills a love for learning in these young, homeless children enrolled in the program while at the same time creating a respect for learning in their parents. Billie carries this moral obligation with a sense of urgency each day whether she is in the classroom, at home, or in the community.

  • 2015: Siobian Minish
  • 2014: Lawanda Duff
  • 2014: Michelle Smith Lank
  • 2013: Meredith Lynn Seibert
  • 2012: Amber Waggoner
  • 2012: Tinnie Lee
  • 2011: Amanda Lankford
  • 2010: Rose Parker-James
  • 2009: Darlene Ferguson
  • 2009: Carmen Crosby
  • 2008: Mitzi Hoffman
  • 2008: Evelyn Russell
  • 2007: Janna Rookis
  • 2006: Phyllis Strobridge
  • 2005: Leonor & Kevin Jackson
  • 2005: Sherron Murphy
  • 2004:  Jamie Miller
  • 2003: Mandi Maloon
  • 2002: Pamela Letchworth
  • 2001: Elaine Pittman
  • 1997: Lynda Crapo

Recipients of the GAYC Certified Teacher of the Year award

*Note: This award was discontinued as a separate award in 2017, and a “public/private school” category was added to the GAEYC Child Educator of the Year to honor certified teachers in public and private schools.

  • 2016: Channie Frazier

Channe FrazierChannie Frazier is a lead Pre-K teacher at Kid’s World Learning Center in Statesboro, GA. During her employment at Kid’s World Learning Center, she has exemplified high quality, commitment, dedication, and loyalty. Channie took the lead in guiding and assisting other classrooms through the NAEYC Accreditation project, helping others to understand the criteria and how to apply it in their classrooms.  During the center’s Quality Rated process, Channie made sure that her Pre-K classroom was maintaining above average standards.  While employed at Kid’s World Learning Center, she has increased her own knowledge in the field of early childhood care and education by obtaining her Master’s Degree and is imparting that knowledge to new potential teachers in the child care field by teaching on-line courses in early childhood education. Channie is also a top three finalist for Pre-K Teacher of the Year in private programs.

  • 2015: Rhonda Doster
  • 2014: Erin Wright
  • 2013: Kelly Craig
  • 2012: Nakeshia Wright
  • 2011: Melissa Webb
  • 2009: Becky Gianinio
  • 2008: Suzanne Hood
  • 2007: Beth Peterson
  • 2006: Joanna Green
  • 2005: Cathy Brooks
  • 2004: Pamela Porter
  • 1997: Earnestine E. Ezekiel
  • 1992: Kathryn Fox May