KEARNEY — Representatives from the University of Nebraska at Kearney College of Education made a surprise announcement during Monday’s board meeting at Educational Service Unit 10.
They came by to honor Coordinator Alexandra Dillon and the Early Learning Connection team with the Outstanding Community Service Award “Making a Difference”. Presented annually by the UNK College of Education, the award honors an individual, business or organization for their contribution to youth and adult education programs and social issues in the community.
“Alexandra Dillon and the Nebraska Early Learning Connection core team serve the diverse needs of the region’s early childhood workforce through active and ongoing engagement. Not only do they coordinate high-quality professional development opportunities in Kearney, but they also strive to meet the unique needs of the rural workforce through partnerships with community organizations and service provider groups in childhood,” said Associate Professor Paula Thompson, one of three education faculty members who nominated for the award.
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“Their commitment to the development and well-being of the early childhood workforce is critically important to Nebraska’s young children and their families,” added Thompson.
Located at ESU 10 in Kearney, the Central Region Early Learning Connection works with partners to plan, coordinate, and deliver training and other professional development opportunities to anyone who provides programs and services for young children. This professional development helps communities and the state establish an effective and coordinated system that prepares and supports early childhood care and education personnel while ensuring that high-quality programs are available for young children. and their families.
The Early Learning Connection consists of a statewide hub at the Early Childhood Training Center in La Vista and seven regional locations, including Kearney, as well as other state and regional partners . The Central Region service area covers 23 counties and four educational service units. Trainings help child care providers meet licensing requirements and improve the quality of their programs, covering topics such as safety, management, planning, program implementation and evaluation, social-emotional development and behavioral guidance strategies, inclusive childcare practices and service to children with disabilities.
Additionally, Dillon helps plan and implement annual Early Years Conferences in Grand Island, Holdrege and Hastings, and she has been a full partner of the UNK College of Education Early Years Committee in sharing information and supporting the annual on-campus early childhood conference.
She is involved with the state preschool development grant and specifically focuses on training needs in diverse communities and provides professional development opportunities in Spanish. Thanks to his efforts, an early childhood conference offered exclusively in Spanish was organized this spring on Grand Island.
Dillon also partners with the performing arts, including the Crane River Theater, to present shows that address topics such as trauma, the challenges and impact of early childhood education, and racial discrimination.