Celebrating Georgia Pre-K Week

It’s the eighth annual Georgia Pre-K Week, in which hundreds of state and local leaders will visit classrooms and read to our youngest learners. Georgia Pre-K, the lottery-funded education program for four-year-olds, began in 1992 with then-Gov. Zell Miller’s pilot for 750 students. Since then, the program has built a foundation for future success for approximately 1.6 million children in public schools and private child-care facilities.

From left, Carrie Ashbee, executive director, Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning; Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal; Georgia Pre-K Teacher of the Year Stephanie Westhafer

Recently, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), which administers the nationally acclaimed program, honored two Pre-K Teachers of the Year. Rebekah Thomas-Haden at Mulberry Creek Elementary School in Cataula was the public school winner and Stephanie Westhafer of Georgia Kids Academy in Hoschton received the private child-care program award.

Each Pre-K Teacher of the Year received $3,000 for personal use; $4,500 for her school to use in a classroom makeover, travel expenses and other needs; and $100 for an in-school celebration. The Pre-K Teachers of the Year have a minimum of three years as lead teachers in their classrooms and have met all credentialing and professional development requirements. They were chosen following a classroom evaluation and interviews, and will serve as ambassadors for the Georgia Pre-K Program.

Featured photo, from left, Alex Dagenhart, consultant, Georgia Pre-K; Carrie Ashbee, executive director, Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning; DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs; Stephanie Blank, chair and president, Naserian Foundation; Georgia Pre-K Teacher of the Year Becky Thomas-Haden; Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal; DECAL board member Kathy Howell; Meghan McNail, DECAL Summer Transition and Outreach manager; Sarah Tinsley, Georgia Foundation for Early Care and Learning Advancement and Donor Relations coordinator.

Photos provided by Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

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