Boise Teacher Selected as PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion

Grace Ruddy, a preschool teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in the Boise School District, is one of ten educators from across the country to be named a 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion. Ruddy is the first Early Learning Champion to be selected from Idaho.

Established in 2018, this national awards program recognizes committed educators who work with young children, from infants to second graders. The program offers a variety of community building, leadership and professional learning opportunities provided by PBS KIDS and local member stations.

According to a statement from PBS, this year’s honorees were selected for their passion and commitment to early education and have each demonstrated outstanding impact in supporting the growth and learning of the whole child, strengthening the ecosystem in which children learn and creating unique and innovative teaching experiences.

Samantha Hill, Idaho Public Television’s community education specialist, says Ruddy launched a program in the Boise School District called “All Ready Preschool,” which ran at two schools from 2004 to 2011. In 2015, she worked with the City of Boise to develop the Boise Pre-K Project as part of the city’s Energize Our Neighborhoods Investment Program. Ruddy has taught preschool, first grade and second grade, and continues to provide training and support to new teachers.

“Grace is very purposeful in her teaching and interactions with students and families,” says Hill. “She worked with the family of a student to learn some basic phrases in their home language of Urdu. She was then able to communicate with the mother throughout the school year. Grace reported that after learning some of these phrases, her relationship with the whole family was enhanced. Her story impressed many of us at IdahoPTV, as it is just one of the many ways Grace works to meet the needs of all students and their families.”

The IdahoPTV education team is eager to partner with Ruddy to enhance the education of early learners and foster professional development relationships between Idaho teachers. In November, Ruddy and her fellow Early Learning Champions will be celebrated in Nashville at the National Association for Young Children Conference.

The 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions and their local PBS stations include:

  • Janalyn Maes, Hodgin Elementary School, Albuquerque, New Mexico (NMPBS)
  • Grace Ruddy, Hawthorne Elementary School, Boise, Idaho (IdahoPTV)
  • Alexandra Mindler, Wilson Area School District, Easton, Pennsylvania (WLVT)
  • Melissa Cardon, Little Bubbles, Bellevue, Nebraska (NET)
  • Cherika Watford, Harris Early Learning Center, Birmingham, Alabama (APTV)
  • Sarah Saenz, Head Start Kent County, Grand Rapids, Michigan (WGVU)
  • Felicia Gray, Burris Laboratory School, Muncie, Indiana (WIPB)
  • Claudia Robles Arias, BilingualKid Language Immersion School, Mechanicsville, Virginia (WCVE)
  • Kristen Valley, Boone Park Elementary School, North Little Rock, Arkansas (AETN)
  • Dee Liggens, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OETA)

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