2015 Honor an Educator Honorees

2015 Honor an Educator Honorees


Eve-Marie Arce

Dr. Eve-Marie Arce served as the CAEYC President from 2005-2007. She led CAEYC through a difficult time, kept CAEYC intact, and moved CAEYC forward. She is to be commended for her nurturing leadership style. With her gentle approach and guidance, the CAEYC board worked together and kept CAEYC's tradition alive. She has inspired many college students and professionals in the early childhood field. Her book "Twins and Supertwins" has helped numerous early childhood professionals successfully interact with twins and super twins and their families. She truly deserves this recognition.

Nominated by Jenny Yen


Amapola Beenn

The members of the East Bay AEYC Board would like to honor Amapola Beenn for her service as an educator and advocate for early childhood education.  Amapola has been in the Early Childhood field for more than twenty years earning an associate degree in Special Education from College of Alameda, a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Studies from Holy Names University, and a master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from CSUEB.  To get to where she is, she has overcome many personal challenges with grace and a relentless positive energy.  She inspires everyone around her with her enthusiasm. Known as Maestra in a bilingual program at De Colores Head Start in Oakland, she has transformed lives of children, families and fellow ECE educators with her “creative, resourceful, and scientific compost garden project![MH1] ” She has presented her expertise at conferences in Spanish and English.  Her passion for ensuring that all educators have access to high quality and affordable professional development has motivated her leadership involvement for years. She has been actively representing children, families and educators on the Alameda County Early Care & Education Planning Council and the EBAEYC Board.  We are very excited to have this opportunity to acknowledge her contributions to the field.

Nominated by East Bay AEYC


Mary T. Cotterman

Teacher Mary began her career in Early Childhood Education in Worcester MA in the 1950’s in a Kindergarten classroom. As with many young women during that time, she soon fell in love and married an all-around athlete and Engineer who moved Mary, three children and one on the way from her family, friends and career to Sacramento, CA where she resides today.  Having two more children, for a total of six she supported her children through their educations.  In 1975, Mary became a widow. As fate would have it, she met a widower with 1 child on a Friday and they married the next week.  Mr. James Cotterman would never let Mary dismiss her love and passion for the “Young Child.” As their combined children grew their wings, Mary resumed her beloved career and began educating children in the private sector. 

Inverness brought promise and a path for Mary and her dream of creating a place where children could grow in music and art and be supported by teachers who emphasized a “whole child” approach in their dispositions and daily implementation of curriculum which was appropriate and respectful. Mary became the new Director of Inverness and renamed it Inverness Day School, “a place where children can learn through play.”

The path was a concrete Dragon’s tail that encircled the majestic playground, surrounded by Oak trees, green grass, and a deck for making play, music and social experiences for children and families. Teacher Mary created a music program alongside Felipe Ferraz that incorporated musical art by Jeanette into each song that the children engaged in during circle time.

Although the doors of Inverness closed, the Dragon tail remains as well as the memories, songs, stories and traditions that were created for over 1,000+ families and more than 30 ECE teachers in Carmichael, CA. Today, Teacher Mary shares her songs and stories with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and always will take moments to provide a word to the wise for any/all who stop by for a visit.

Nominated by Michelle Salluzzo


Taylor Hernandez

Working in the field of early childhood education, I have been extremely blessed to work alongside some amazing people. I started working with Taylor Hernandez in 2006 back when she was Taylor Duncan and although she was new, you could tell that she was:

  1. eager to learn
  2. bright
  3. loved working with preschoolers

We hit it off from the start.  She was my aide and she really paid attention to details. She took initiative and she asked questions.  It wasn’t long when she was practically “reading my mind” as I like to joke.  We were a good team. I pushed and urged her to go back to school and earn additional ECE units and she did.  As I was promoted to assistant director a few years later, she was immediately promoted to classroom teacher.  In fact, she was both my daughter’s and my son’s preschool teacher! In 2012 I told her my plan to open a new center and to leave my job at the district, and all she said was, “I’m in!”   When I left my job later that year Taylor said, “When are you hiring me?”  I was nervous; I thought, “She would leave a reliable job, with benefits and a steady schedule to work with me?” She had so much faith in the idea, and in me. Soon after, she left her job at the district to help me open the first classroom at the center. Two years later, the program is thriving and is doing well. It would have taken me much longer to get this project off its feet without Taylor. She never called in sick, she did not ask for time off; she worked long hours, came in on the weekends, helped pass out flyers and advertise, she helped with tours all with a smile on her face. Today, I honor Taylor Hernandez because she not only made a difference in my life, she continues to make a difference in the lives of the families we serve because she is a strong teacher and she believes in what we do!

Nominated by Sandra Perez


Veronica Hernandez

As activists for children, at Orange County Peace Camp, a crucial part of our success is the expansion of our ideas and work from the camp to the real world. As both a Peace Camp staff member and an Early Childhood Educator, Veronica Hernandez has demonstrated her skill in incorporating our values in her classroom. Veronica has committed her life to improving the lives of her students. Veronica has a strong passion for empowering children by teaching them that they have their own, powerful voice with which to impact the world around them. Through the use of communal agreements, rather than authoritarian rules, her students have learned to work collaboratively towards a peaceful classroom. With Talking Sticks, Veronica teaches them to use their voices for constructive purposes, and to respect the voices of others. By teaching her students the skills to resolve conflict, to appreciate and preserve the natural world around them, to always stand up for what is right, and to be contributing members of society, she is educating tomorrow’s leaders.

Nominated by Ana Page


Betsy Hiteshew

Betsy Hiteshew served as the CAEYC President from 1997-1999.  She was instrumental in the early reading initiative for California children. She has been an inspiration to many early childhood teachers and educators. She has taught many of us to look at the "whole child" when teaching and interacting with young children. She is very active in the field of ECE and continues to contribute her time, energy, knowledge and expertise to the field. Betsy is a role model for many of us in the ECE field. She truly deserves this recognition.

Nominated by Jenny Yen


Ellen Junn

Dr. Ellen Junn served as the CAEYC President from 2003-2005. She is currently the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State University, Domingo Hills. Ellen led CAEYC at a challenging time in 2004. With her great leadership and vision, CAEYC was able to continue to thrive and serve many ECE educators. Ellen is an outstanding mentor and has mentored many emergent leaders in our field. She is to be commended for her contribution to Public Policy in relative to child development. She is a role model for ECE professionals.

Nominated by Jenny Yen


Lilia Martinez

Lilia Martinez is an outstanding ECE teacher. In addition to her profession, she has been involved with Orange County Peace Camps for more than a decade. She serves as a staff, volunteer, supporter and most recently as a "Peace Camp Mom." She has been instrumental in making OC Peace Camp continue to serve children in Orange County. She has been very generous in donating her time, food, and energy. She is a great person modeling "peace resolution" in the real world. She has produced awesome and peaceful children.  She truly is a great peace activist and deserves recognition!

Nominated by Jenny Yen


Sarah McConville

Sarah is a dedicated preschool teacher at Hilltop Preschool in Fountain Valley where she fosters child development in an activity-based program infused with the joy so evident in her smile. Sara thinks outside the box exposing her students to a broad range of experiences.

Nominated by Holly Richards


Karin Pavlek

At the Fullerton College Lab School, Karin has a compassion for young children. She shows passion for anti-bias curriculum and encouraging the whole child. Karin collaborates with all the staff to build a wonderful nature and art inspired Reggio program. Karin is a fearless leader who brings college students, professors and the lab school together to create a constructive environment for children. In addition to her leadership and teaching at the lab school, Karin is a mentor teacher and professor at Santa Ana College. She uses her expertise and Early Childhood knowledge to inspire young teachers to make a difference in their classrooms as well.

Nominated by Ana Page


Aaron, Ryan and Jason Sato

At Orange County Peace Camp, we strive to create a family of peacemakers, a diverse community of individuals who actively engage in making the world a better place to live and learn. For fifteen years, the Sato brothers have played an integral role in the development of Peace Camp. Aaron, Ryan, and Jason each brings their unique perspective and strengths to teaching our peace campers. Known as our resident nature and wildlife experts, the Sato brothers teach the campers about the diversity and fragility of the flora and fauna of Irvine Regional Park, which Peace Camp calls home.

As young campers in 2000, Aaron, Ryan, and Jason embody the everlasting spirit of community that OC Peace Camp cultivates. Growing up to be Youth Leaders, they worked hard to learn from the founders of Peace Camp, including the late Chris Lamm. As adult staff members, they have taken their wealth of experience and are now building the leaders of the future.

Nominated by Ana Page


Ginger Swigart

Ginger Swigart served as the CAEYC President from 2007-2009. She is currently serving on the NAEYC Governing Board. CAEYC is indebted to Ginger's unconditional support.  When CAEYC experienced difficult challenge last year, Ginger supported CAEYC with all her heart. The time, effort and work she put in to help CAEYC was unbelievable. She is to be commended for being a great leader for CAEYC and she has inspired many early childhood educators. She is a great asset for CAEYC.

Nominated by Jenny Yen


Sunny Wallick

As a peace educator/activist, Sunny Wallick has spent decades in classrooms guiding children, parents and other adults in ways of peace. From creating peace education programs in the Clare Cherry School, to community college classes in diversity and children’s literature, to presenting peace education workshops at local, state and national conferences – Sunny is always “teaching peace.” In addition, Sunny has served CAEYC as Arrowhead Section President, CAEYC Board member and Peace and Environmental Issues Committee member. Sunny was a founding member of Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe Environment (CEASE – 1979) which is now Peace Educators Allied for Children Everywhere (PEACE). In her home community, Sunny has also promoted the values of peace. She has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Redlands YMCA Great Y Circus which is known for its teamwork and collaboration. She has organized music concerts for children and families. And, she continues to work with Citizen’s Action for Peace that has done weekly peace vigils for decades! In so many ways, Sunny is an inspiration as she is always “teaching peace!”

Nominated by Marilyn Shelton