Lilian Katz

Teaching the Young Child: Goals for Illinois

Based on a speech by Lilian G. Katz, Ph.D. presented at the First Annual Conference of the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children (ILLAEYC). May 15,1971. Washington School. Champaign, IL. Read this publication

Shirley Dean

founders-shirly1.JPG Many of you know Shirley Dean as a founding member of Illinois AEYC. Others of you recognize her for her role in establishing the Illinois Society for Early Childhood Professionals, or as a vital force in the Midwest AEYC, as editor of The Young Learner. And yet others know Shirley for her avid advocacy for young children and those who work with them. I value Shirley as a very dear friend and colleague. Shirley personified early childhood professionalism when she taught, directed, and mentored me, and others with a passion not to be matched. She served on the NAEYC Task Force to study procedures for communicating with members and obtaining full representation in planning and decision-making. Throughout the years Shirley has written poetry for friends and colleagues. Some is motivational, some is holiday - all is philosophical. It is a glorious collection from a much revered early childhood professional. Her poetry is now in book form as Life is Life by Shirley Dean, with tributes from people who have known Shirley and her work for the past 50 years.

Shirley Dean Award

By Jan Deissler

founders-shirley2.jpgI’ve had many great opportunities in my professional life, but none has been more exciting than presenting the following award.

The Shirley Dean Award is given periodically to someone deemed worthy, based upon their service to the Midwest AEYC. This year the award I am presenting is slightly different. Today it is my privilege to present the Shirley Dean Lifetime Achievement Award to my professional colleague and good friend.

If I were to read to you her vast collection of accomplishments it would take far longer than the few minutes allotted. But, let me share with you just a few:

  • Shirley attended the University of Chicago, receiving both a bachelors and master’s degrees in Child Development
  • She has held only two early childhood positions, both as director. Since 1963 she has been the Director of the Child Care Center at the Chicago Child Care Society, retiring in December, 1995.
  • Shirley was an original member of the Illinois AEYC, and its vice-president, long range planning and liaison from/to the Chicago AEYC.
  • She led other professionals in founding the Illinois Society for Early Childhood Professionals.
  • She was an organizer of the Family Resource Coalition.
  • She was a member of the Midwest Association for the Education of Young Children and was treasurer, served on long-range planning and By-Laws Committees.
  • Shirley served the National Association for the Education of Young Children by being local chair for the Chicago NAEYC Conference, serving on a number of task forces and committees – including long-range planning.

In fact, it seems wherever there was long-range planning to be done, Shirley was there.

Shirley almost single-handedly organized and chaired the inaugural meeting of the Illinois Society of Early Childhood Professionals. She recognized early on the importance of professionalizing the field and the Society represents her efforts to do so. She knew the value of accreditation long before it became a national ‘buzz’ word.

Shirley has given 100’s of presentations across the country in small towns and big cities. Her topics range from supervision to professionalization. She has presented at NAEYC, Midwest AEYC, Illinois AEYC, Chicago Metro AEYC and many other groups. Thousands have learned from Shirley Dean.

But more than anything, Shirley has been a mentor, a colleague and a dear friend. She has guided us through conference planning, strategic planning and long-range planning. My life has been deeply enriched because of Shirley’s activism and professionalism. There is a sense of security in knowing that Shirley will be there, wherever ‘there’ may be.

I’d like to share with you this poem written by the award winning poet, Dr. Judy Harris Helm, Past President of Illinois AEYC. The poem is dedicated to Shirley Dean.

The Mentor of Professionals

We came to early childhood with soaring hopes,
Hearts in our hands, and visions of children, laughter and joy.
We came to teaching for fun.

And somewhere in our early years we learned
Not all children are joyful
Not all teaching is fun
Not everyone cares about
What happens to children.

And, with many of us despair sets in.
We desert out plans, or even worse,
We cease to try,
To really make a difference
In children’s lives.

But, if we were lucky, someone stepped forward
And taught us then that skills and excitement
Are not enough to make a difference
We must become professionals.

And, if we were really lucky
That someone became our mentor
Defining professionalism; modeling the consistent
Stead, pushing forward of children’s issues.
Showed us the right thing to do.

And, if we were really blessed
That mentor organized us together
Built a support group, linked professionals,
Taught us to network to get things done.

And if fortune smiled on us
The mentor preserved a professional history
Giving to us the gifts of

And if the mentor was very good
We found ourselves with a need
To mentor as we have been.
To understand we are not the first
Nor shall we be the last.

And as our mentor has passed us the torch
We know that the greatest gift
Our mentor has given us
Is that we will never
Need to stand alone.

- Judy Harris Helm (April 18, 1996)