Prime Minister's Achievement Award
Nita Pedersen, senior early childhood educator at the SFU Childcare Society, has received a prestigious Prime Minister’s Achievement Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. She is one of 10 recipients from across the country. The award honors outstanding early childhood educators for their leadership and exemplary early childhood education practices.
“It’s overwhelming,” says Pedersen. “I’m very humbled and very honoured. I just think that to be recognized for doing my job, it’s an amazing thing.”
Pedersen joined the SFU Childcare Society in 1990 to work with the K-Kids five-year-old program. Today, she mentors and supports her team of educators as they work together to provide a nurturing, open environment for children and families. Pedersen also sits on a number of committees and participates in the society’s community events, such as garden parties, potluck meals, and teas. Recently, she has begun speaking at a variety of workshops about developing spaces for children to work and play.
“When I started, I never thought anything like this would happen and just the recognition of the work that not only I do but that all of our educators do is so important,” she says. “I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing without my other educators, with whom I work on the floor. We hold each other accountable, we challenge each other, and we work together to provide the best quality care for our children.”
Pat Frouws, executive director, SFU Childcare Society, says that, over the last 10 years, there has been a major shift in early childhood thinking and curriculum.
“The new information age requires adults to be collaborative, creative and curious,” says Frouws. “This cannot be accomplished through a passive approach with children who are expected to absorb material from one source, the teacher. Each child is unique, and it is our responsibility to discover, uncover and allow their uniqueness to thrive for the benefit of all.”
Frouws says Pedersen’s approach to facilitating learning—observing and responding to children’s queues—has made a big difference.
“Nita has always been an excellent educator, with integrity,” she says.
“There is no prescribed plan when responding to the abilities, curiosities, and creativity of individual children, but Nita embraced this major shift and took every opportunity for professional development to learn more.”
For more information on the SFU Childcare Society, please visit sfu.ca/childcare.
This text was originally published on the SFU News website on June 16, 2017