Ruth I. Eickman Outstanding Early Childhood Educator Award
About the Award: This award recognizes an early childhood educator who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to young children and child centered learning, has been involved with the families of these young children, has shown an appreciation of children's and families' uniqueness, uses developmentally appropriate practices when working with young children and has demonstrated the use of innovative practices in the field of early childhood.
Awarded Amount: $750
Nominated By: Martha Ostrom and Kristin Desel, coworkers at Arnold Elementary School.
Dear Cara Lucas-Richt and the Ruth Eickman Award Selection Committee,
Throughout our years in education we have been fortunate to work with amazing educators that have helped us grow and develop both personally and professionally. We have bore witness to several effective teachers who teach for student success. This being said, we would like to highlight a specific teacher that instills the importance of kindness and authentic relationships, establishes a love for education in young learners as well as has a profound and lasting impact on the families she works with.
The person we would like to submit this nomination for is Kristine Fry. We have had the pleasure of working with Kristine for 12 and 7 years. Kristine has been a family educator at Arnold Elementary school for 14 years, taking one year off from teaching in the United States to teach and do volunteer work in Haiti. Throughout this time Kristine has been a co-teacher and colleague to several different staff members. She has also been a mentor teacher to new staff members and continues to make herself available in that role every year when introducing herself to new Early Childhood staff members.
Kristine is involved in and volunteers for activities within the building after hours to support the Air Park community. Kristine makes it a priority to be at the early childhood enrollment day for Arnold in the summer. Kristine also serves as a building representative for the district Equity committee and takes a leadership role with this at the building level. She has suggested book studies (the most recent one is just beginning with the book The Hate U Give), lead discussions during book studies and has also presented to the Arnold staff on Equity.
Kristine builds strong and lasting relationships with families. Every time she has a family with a younger sibling, they request for the younger child to be in her classroom. She continues to make time during the summers to attend her current and former student’s events (ex: soccer games, flag football games, baseball/t-ball games etc). Kristine has former students that write her notes about how she was their absolute favorite teacher and still drop off gifts, homemade food and artwork years later. She is also always open to her former students visiting her classroom to take breaks or offer a contribution to her current preschooler classroom. Kristine has also had several current high school students that were former students of hers reach out to her or come back to visit her and share the memories they still have of preschool.
Kristine always goes above and beyond to be available for families whenever they need it. She has partnered with support staff in the building and district when families have been struggling. She helps get them assistance with food, vouchers, recommendations for therapists, support with job applications and to talk through anything that they are needing at the time. She continues to be that support person for them even years later because she has developed such a strong relationship with them in preschool and they still feel comfortable coming to her when they need anything.
Kristine has pursued further education by getting her ELL degree and loves getting to work with students and families from different backgrounds and cultures. She is eager to learn about each family’s traditions and goes above and beyond to make sure that families feel comfortable and supported throughout their time in the preschool program. Kristine’s classroom is full of diverse books, posters and languages on the walls. She teaches her class how to write hello in different languages as their daily greeting and she includes pictures representing different cultures in her lessons so that each child feels represented in her classroom.
Along with building strong relationships with her families, Kristine understands the importance of building a team and having a positive working relationship with others. Kristine was there for me (Kristin) when I first got my family educator job at Arnold. She took me to dinner the night before the first day of school to walk through how she leads her preschoolers on their very first day of school. I remember feeling so nervous as a first year teacher but felt so much better after talking with her and listening to her experienced teacher wisdom and advice. Kristine continues to be there for new teachers that have joined our team throughout the years by making sure they feel connected and in the loop starting in the summer before their first year.
Kristine is always our team cheerleader by planning activities for us to do together outside of work. She also volunteers to support our morning teachers when we are short paras and staff to ensure that our day goes smoothly. Kristine is also there to support us through changes in technology. She has taught us so many different ways to use technology in our classroom to make our lives easier, as well as make learning more exciting and engaging for our students. Our team has been blessed to work with such a kind and giving individual who thinks of others and gives so much time and energy towards building strong relationships personally and professionally.
Kristine does not do what she does to receive awards, recognitions or accolades but simply to support and inspire those with whom she comes in contact with on a daily basis. She is an outstanding educator in all respects. She provides her students with a quality education, has made significant positive contributions to Lincoln Public School Early Childhood program as well as at the building level, and she works hard to build relationships with her coworkers, colleagues, parents and students. Kristine is a much deserving recipient of this award.
Thank you for your consideration,
Martha Ostrom and Kristin Desel