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Educator of the Year inspires her 'Tiny' preschool students

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 7:19 p.m.
Teacher Lindsay helps student Ella Wallace, 5 of Greensburg with spelling.
Marilyn Forbes I For Trib Total Media
Teacher Lindsay helps student Ella Wallace, 5 of Greensburg with spelling.
Lindsay Stevens of the Tiny Town Childcare Center was named Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Child Care Association.
Marilyn Forbes I For Trib Total Media
Lindsay Stevens of the Tiny Town Childcare Center was named Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Child Care Association.

Lindsay Stevens' passion for teaching drives her to help her students at Tiny Town Childcare Center in Hempfield to be the best they can be.

Stevens' efforts have not gone unnoticed. She has been named Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Child Care Association.

“I was just very humbled,” Stevens said of the award she received at the association's annual conference in October.

She was nominated by several parents and co-workers, who all sent letters to the association.

“I was so touched when I read the letters,” Steven's said. “I didn't realize that they felt that I made such a difference in their lives. I was surprised and humbled.”

Association director Diane Barber said it received nominations for 24 educators from across the state, but letters about Stevens depicted a truly dedicated early care and education provider.

”We were so happy to be able to present the award to her,” Barber said. “The nominating committee members were so taken with the letters we received — to read that she followed in her mother's footsteps was so touching.”

The nominating committee received almost a dozen letters; many were read at the award banquet.

“Miss Lindsay has a calling and that calling is teaching,” Barber read from one letter. “I think that says it all about her.”

Heather Slobodnik of Herminie, the head teacher for toddlers at Tiny Town, sent in a nomination for Stevens.

“I have been working here for four years and she has become like a sister to me,” Slobodnik said. She is certified in teaching early-childhood development and, through the encouragement of Stevens, is pursuing a degree in the field.

“She is so nice and friendly and you can just see that she loves what she does. She really inspired me to go to college,” Slobodnik said of Stevens.

Stevens, who has been with Tiny Town for 18 years, works with 4- and 5-year-old students. She strives to give them a smooth transition into kindergarten.

“She has arranged field trips for students to go to some of the schools and she also arranged for teachers and even school secretaries to come here and meet with the students,' Tiny Town owner Kathy Hopkin said. “Lindsay is quite outstanding.”

Stevens is perpetually learning and is working to bring more technology to her students through fun and creative hands-on activities.

“This is their world — the world of technology,” Stevens said. “I try to create hands-on activities that are then incorporated into their lessons.”

Stevens said it is always rewarding to see former Tiny Town students bringing in their own children to the center.

“My job is very fulfilling to me,” Stevens said. “It is such a remarkable feeling when you teach and teach a child and then you know they get it — they get it and then they can have fun with it. That's what it's all about.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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