Preschool teacher awarded $10,000
When preschool teacher Ruby Villarreal went to her job at Pinebrook KinderCare Learning Center on the morning of Oct. 3, she had no idea she’d be taking home a check for $10,000 and a prestigious Early Childhood Educator Award from Knowledge Universe at the end of the day.
Villarreal, who has been working in early childhood education for 20 years, was secretly nominated for the award by her district manager, Anita Salyer.
Knowledge Universe coordinated with Salyer and Pinebrook KinderCare Director Shawna Dixon to surprise Villarreal with the award and check during a special story time at the center.
“I’m in shock still,” Villarreal said just minutes after receiving the award.
Although Villarreal was reluctant to brag about herself, Knowledge Universe Senior Director of Community and Communications David Roy was quick to sing her praises.
“I spoke with Anita (Salyer), and she told me that Ruby is unwavering in her enthusiasm and has a constant focus on doing what’s right by children,” he said. “She does a great job with the group of children that she has, making sure that she addresses individual needs and individual learning styles, and just treating every child as an individual,” he said.
Roy also had the opportunity to visit with the parents of some of Villarreal’s students at the surprise award ceremony. The stories they shared made it clear to him that Knowledge Universe had made a good choice by selecting Villarreal as its latest Early Childhood Educator award winner.
“We talked to a parent whose son is in Ruby’s class,” he said. “They moved from this neighborhood to downtown; they started commuting back here just so that their son could be in Ruby’s class and prepare for kindergarten. I thought that was really compelling testimony.”
When Villarreal’s not helping her Pinebrook KinderCare students prepare for kindergarten, she enjoys arts and crafts, such as drawing and scrapbooking, and gardening.
ABOUT RUBY VILLARREAL
OCCUPATION: Preschool teacher
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Works at Pinebrook KinderCare Learning Center
FAST FACT: Plans to use some of her prize money to take her mother and sister on a “mini-vacation”
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