Ann Harmon, a teacher at Caring Hands Daycare in LaSalle, said she did a dance when she won a national child care teacher award.
Harmon of rural Ladd was one of 50 teachers in the country to win the award in 2017 and the only one coming from Illinois. She was notified in February and went to Philadelphia, Pa., in May to receive the award and to be honored with the other 49 recipients.
“I was real excited,” she said. “I was totally amazed I won. I did a Snoopy dance after I found out.”
There were 600 applications submitted for the award. Harmon will receive $500 for her project at the daycare center and $500 for her personal use, which she plans to put back into her pre-kindergarten classroom where she teaches 12, 4 and 5 year olds at the center.
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In order to win the award, Harmon’s proposal was to build “Sound Off,” a sound garden using recycled and repurposed items like PVC pipe, pots and pans or items the children could bring from home. Using items the children are familiar with makes it more “their” creation. It is important for this project to be created with students with the help of volunteers.
The garden consisting of two fences that will be 4-feet-tall-by-8-feet-wide will encourage the students to participate in exploring sound through music. The students will explore the materials and learn about the different sounds they make. The outdoor musical garden offers cognitive, emotional and physical play, a great way to help teach the love of music and play among the students.
“It is very important to win since pre-school teachers are generally not acknowledged as teachers, more like babysitters,” she said. “This award validates what you do as a teacher.”
The students in Harmon’s class will help build the wall with volunteers from Fairmount Santrol in Troy Grove to put up posts and instruments on June 26.
“It is important for this project to be created with students with the help of volunteers,” added Harmon.
Harmon started teaching in 2011 at Caring Hands Daycare as a pre-kindergarten teacher. She received her associate’s degree from Illinois Valley Community College and her bachelor’s degree from Kendall College in Chicago.
Harmon had previously received a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to install a butterfly garden at the center.
“We grow a vegetable and flower garden every summer,” she added. “The students like to eat and share their bounty with other families from the center.”
In August 1987, Fred and Kay Lokoff founded the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation to honor of the memory of their daughter Terri, a child care teacher, who died tragically in an auto accident. In 1994, the Terri Lynne Lokoff/Children’s Tylenol National Child Care Teacher Awards were first handed out to day care teachers nationwide and on U.S. military bases and installations around the world.