Our teachers are passionate about teaching, and we ensure that their dedication does not go unnoticed. After visiting classrooms and soliciting center nominations, we choose a select few teachers to recognize each year. We surprise each teacher in the presence of her biggest fans - her students - with a ceremony, a round of hugs and a check for $10,000.

Sponsored by our parent company, The Knowledge Universe Early Childhood Educator Award is the only national honor of its kind to celebrate excellence in teaching young children.

Meet our 2012 Educator Award Winner

Elizabeth_Minor_HeadshotFor Elizabeth Minor, a Learning Adventures teacher at CCLC's University Children's Center in Chicago, the best part about teaching is when her students talk about and remember what she taught them. In July they learned about the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the next day some children came to class saying "I saw it Elizabeth!"

Elizabeth is in her fourth year with CCLC at the NAEYC accredited University Children's Center. During her time at the center the Learning Adventures classes have had high enrollment, something Center Director Leigh Hafeman attributes to Elizabeth's enthusiasm, innovation, and direct leadership. She explains that Elizabeth frequently develops her own lessons to extend the curriculum themes, such as this summer's unit on the Olympics.

When Elizabeth was presented the KU Early Childhood Educator Award on September 10, Leigh said, "There is no person more deserving than Elizabeth. She is the epitome of an educator and an outstanding person. She's so wonderful to work with. She's incredibly creative [and] the children adore her."

For her part, Elizabeth is appreciative of the recognition the award brings, but also of her students.

"You could be having the worst day ever and when you come to work and a kid who loves you comes up and hugs you, it changes your outlook completely."

When she's not teaching the Learning Adventures programs or directing all of the center's camps, you're likely to find Elizabeth in the classroom, reading the Spanish picture bookSe Venden Gorras, part of the Spanish Learning Adventures enrichment class and her favorite children's book.

"It's easy to read and the kids love the monkeys. They remember all of the words and they want to be monkeys. It's fun."