An Edmonton early childhood educator has received high praise for her work with young children and their families.
Shaylene Saxton was recently honoured with a 2020 Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education certificate of achievement for her work at Rio Terrace Community Preschool at 15500 76 Ave. NW.
Watching her kids grow and learn in the first few years of their lives convinced Saxton that being an early childhood educator was the career for her.
“I realized that I think there is a gap in the recognition of learning those first five years in-between birth and kindergarten entry … I would say that those first five years are equally as important in terms of education as when a child enters formal schooling,” she said.
As a parent, she saw a lack of consistency in the kind of education and care children were receiving and saw an opportunity to make a difference.
During her five years at the preschool, she spent 200 hours in professional development, including a week-long study tour of New Zealand. She developed relationships with the children and their families, and saw the child’s social and emotional development equally as important as their academic growth, according to the award application.
What she enjoys is being able to be supportive person in the children’s lives.
“Being able to see the impact that you have on a child’s life, and to be another person in their life that is super excited to see them and really invested in them, and really views them as really important and capable … that is so rewarding.”
Saxton now works as early childhood development resource worker at Edmonton’s downtown Bissell Centre.