Preschool Teacher Receives Award to Teach Literacy, Multiculturalism

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Heather Hurteau, preschool teacher at the SUNY Cortland Child Care Center, assists four-year-olds Marin Sharer, left, Bryant DePaull and five-year-old Matthew Buckholz with a project.

CORTLAND, NY (02/18/2009)(readMedia)-- Heather Hurteau tries to incorporate reading into many of the activities she conducts with the four- and five-year-olds in her class at the SUNY Cortland Child Care Center, where one recent project proposal has earned her national accolades.

After 16 years of working at the Child Care Center, Hurteau was selected as one of the top 10 finalists for the Terri Lynne Lokoff Children's Tylenol National Child Care Teacher Award.

The Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving early child care and education, bestows the award annually to applicants who have designed the best enhancement project for the children in their classroom illustrating the educational, social and emotional benefits from the activities.

A committee of early childhood educators reviewed the applications and selected 50 finalists from across the country.

As one of the finalists, Hurteau, during a ceremony in April in Pennsylvania, will be awarded $500 for personal use and $500 to improve her classroom.

"We are very proud of Heather and congratulate her on receiving this honor," said Johanna Hartnett, director of the SUNY Cortland Child Care Center, which serves 67 children of College employees, students and community residents.

Hurteau also has a chance to compete for the Helene Marks Award, by completing an additional essay question. She could receive an additional $1,000 and a shopping spree at Bloomingdale's department store.

Hurteau proposed to create multicultural literacy bags to share with the 18 children in her class and their families. The bags will contain multicultural hardcover books, dolls representing the ethnicity of the children, props, follow-up games, activities and journals.

The materials in the bags will allow parents to model appropriate interactions, provide literacy support and foster children's learning.

"Reading aloud to children is essential for them to succeed," Hurteau said. "The lending library will encourage and increase literacy behaviors at home, while enabling parents to be more aware of specific skills that are introduced at this level and allow them to be part of their children's learning."

"Heather's project is a nice collaboration with families, it's a partnership," added Hartnett. "It will give parents an idea of how we approach literacy in our classrooms."

"This is the second year in a row that the SUNY Cortland Child Care Center, located in the Twin Towers on the College campus, has had the honor and privilege of having a finalist in this competition, said Hartnett. "Susan Drake was named a finalist in 2008. This attests to the quality of our teachers and staff at the center."

Hurteau lives in Homer, N.Y.

For more information, contact Hartnett at (607) 753-5955.