U.P. Beacon Award honors local early childhood professionals

MARQUETTE – The Upper Peninsula Beacon Award was begun in 2011 as a way to draw attention to outstanding individuals throughout the Upper Peninsula whose work has impacted the lives of young children.

During Michigan’s Month of the Young Child, the Upper Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children asks each community to recognize the importance of early learning in their area and to celebrate the people and policies that bring early childhood education to young children, according to a press release issued by the Upper Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children. Service to children, family involvement, coordination of resources, and contributions to the early childhood field are all qualifications that are considered when Beacon Award winners are being chosen.

Over the past four years, the Beacon Award has been awarded to truly remarkable individuals and groups within the field of early childhood, the release said.

“This year is no exception,” the release said. “The two 2015 awardees are indeed ‘Lighting the Way to Early Success’ for young children in our Upper Peninsula.”

Angela Borchardt, Kingsford, is this year’s Exemplary Early Childhood Professional Awardee. Borchardt is the owner of Great Beginnings Early Child Care Center in Kingsford. As a private center owner, she has been working diligently on various quality improvements, according to the release.

Over the past couple of years, she has adopted a new curriculum, worked on creating developmentally appropriate environments within her classrooms, and assisted her teachers in utilizing the Gold assessment tool.

Currently, Borchardt and some of her staff members are working on furthering their education in early childhood in order to improve the quality of care and education they provide for children.

“Borchardt is reflective on her role as an early childhood professional and she is committed to providing the best care for her children and families within Dickinson County,” the release said.

Becky Nelson, Negaunee, is this year’s Outstanding Partner in Early Education and Care Awardee. Nelson is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Bethel Baptist Church in Marquette. She has been in this position for the past nine years working with children of many ages ranging from newborn to late elementary school.

As the Children’s director, Nelson provides the resources and support needed for both teachers and parents to promote proper age level development. She trains volunteers to care for and mentor young children in the church and community. Nelson actively ensures that all children are safe and have their needs met when they are in her care, the release said.

“Family involvement is very important to Nelson,” the release said. “She organizes and oversees multiple events within the Bethel Baptist Church community; she does not only include the younger children, but also encourages all family members to activity participate.”

Nelson, her husband, and their six children have weekly small group meetings in their home which include fellowship for families.

Nelson is dedicated to helping families connect and grow together, according to the release.

The UPAEYC honored both of these individuals in a ceremony on June 20 at the Landmark Inn in Marquette.