October Member Spotlight - Erin Cetera

Quote: Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children and grandchildren is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children -  Lilian Katz.

Who are you and what do you do? My name is Erin Cetera and I am an Assessor and Training Specialist for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University.

How long have you been in the field? Over 30 years

Why did you join Illinois AEYC? One of my favorite college professors impressed upon me the importance of belonging to a professional organization to stay up-to-date in the field of early childhood education. I've been a member of NAEYC and my local chapters and affiliates ever since. 

How long have you been a member? Since college...1982? 

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of? I directed an early childhood program that was accredited by NAEYC three times while I was affiliated with the program. I've served on countless committees and work groups to professionalize the field, and I've presented workshops and college courses to many of my colleagues over the years.

What is your favorite Illinois AEYC Memory? When I nominated Alice Giordano, one of my college professors, and a dear mentor, and was able to be present when she was honored in Springfield as the Children's Champion from the DuPage Chapter. There was also a really fun IL AEYC gathering at a NAEYC conference in New Orleans!

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? I look forward to every new publication, whether it's a book or periodical.

What is your favorite Children’s book and why? Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney. The message is touching and important: "You must do something to make the world more beautiful." 

Family, Hobbies, etc…..My husband and I are brand new, first time grandparents! As with many things, I thought I knew what people meant when they talked about how great this part of life could be, but now I have a much deeper understanding. When I have free time you'll find me reading, exercising, or working in the garden.


August Member Spotlight - Blakely Bundy

Quote: Maybe this resonates with me now because of the times we are living in."When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world." - Mister Rogers

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Blakely Bundy. Since January 2016, I have been Co-Director of a national early childhood advocacy organization, Defending the Early Years, based in Boston. Between 1989 and 2014, I was the Executive Director of The Alliance for Early Childhood, which provided support and services to parents and teachers of young children on the North Shore of Chicago. From 1983-1993, I was a teacher at Willow Wood Preschool in Winnetka.

How long have you been in the field? 40 plus years, starting as a student teacher at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

Why did you join ILAEYC?I joined NAEYC and its affiliates, Chicago Metro AEYC and ILAEYC, for professional development including the conferences and publications; their advocacy efforts; and for professional networking opportunities.

How long have you been a member? I joined Chicago Metro AEYC/ILAEYC in the 1980s. I served as President of Chicago Metro AEYC from 2003-2005.

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of?

  • Reaching a national audience on early childhood advocacy topics since 2016 as the Co-Director of Defending the Early Years
  • Being instrumental in founding the Preschool-Kindergarten Summit on the North Shore of Chicago in 2014, which brings together over 200 early childhood educators to hear about the latest in early childhood research and thinking.
  • Serving as Executive Director, The Alliance for Early Childhood, 1989-2014, and growing the organization from a small one, based in Winnetka, one that serves the early childhood community on the entire North Shore of Chicago and serves as a model for successful community collaboration.
  • Serving as President of Chicago Metro AEYC, 2003-2005, and working with a diverse and wonderful, hard-working board of directors and staff, coming from all over the Chicago area.
  • Serving as Chair of Chicago Metro AEYC’s Accreditation Project, 1996-2001, and helping over 50 preschools and child care centers in low income communities to achieve NAEYC accreditation.

What is your favorite ILAEYC Memory? Presenting at the “Play in Peoria Conference” in the 1980s with my co-teacher at Willow Wood Preschool on “using the feltboard in the early childhood classroom” and realizing that there were over 300 participants in the audience! Recently, participating in the NAEYC Public Policy Forum as an ILAEYC representative.

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? I still attend the annual conference each year and also serve as a facilitator of the Community Collaboration Interest Forum. I appreciate their advocacy efforts but wish that they would do even more!

What is your favorite Children’s book and why? Each Peach, Pear, Plum which allows children to find familiar nursery rhyme characters in the charming illustrations. And, of course, everyone’s favorite, Good Night Moon, for younger children, and Paddle-to-the Sea for older kids.

Family, Hobbies, etc... I have four grown kids and 11 grandkids, ranging in age from 19 years old (with two in college) to 2 months old. Nine live on the North Shore of Chicago and the other two in Boston, where I frequently travel for work. We have recently taken some amazing family trips to places including Tanzania, Scotland, and the Galapagos. Next up: Iceland! I also love to read, play golf, and be in and on the water, whether snorkeling, swimming, water aerobics, or on a boat.

August Member Spotlight - Nasser Nabhan


Quote: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from       serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Fred Rogers

Who are you and what do you do? My name is Nasser Nabhan, and I am an Assessor and Training Specialist for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University.

How long have you been in the field? I have been in the field for 7 years.

Why did you join ILAEYC? ILAEYC advocates for high-quality early childhood education, and that is exactly what I am passionate about. I wanted to join a group of people in Illinois that shared in my passion for young children. ILAEYC also provides opportunities to learn and grow in the profession. We all need to support one another and ILAEYC gives us the platform and space to do so.

How long have you been a member? Only a few months, but I have been a member of NAEYC for many years.

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of? I am proud to have been given the opportunity to teach preschool. Young children are absolutely incredible and it was an honor to be able to guide them at one of the most critical times in their lives. I consider my years of teaching the bedrock of my professional development.

What is your favorite ILAEYC Memory? I really enjoyed spending some time with ILAEYC members at NAEYC’s Public Policy Forum in Washing D.C. There are many incredibly talented and hardworking people in the organization.

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? NAEYC is a place that brings everyone in the profession together and gives us a voice. Children, parents, teachers, administrators, family advocates, and researchers all have a place in NAEYC. I was recently at a wedding party and one of the lady’s told me she was a preschool teacher. We talked about the low wages and struggles of being in the field. But then my mind went immediately to NAEYC, and I was able to tell her about an organization that is advocating for her and thousands of others in the profession. She got excited about NAEYC, and I felt proud. Of course, I also love NAEYC’s magazine “Young Children” and many of their book publications have been helpful throughout my career.

What is your favorite Children’s book and why? “Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business” by Esphyr Slobodkina. My mother would read this book to me when I was young. I love how the story unfolds with such playfulness. I was overjoyed when my students fell in love with the book as well.

Family, Hobbies, etc…..

In addition to my deep love for the blocks center and everything Fred Rogers, I enjoy traveling, reading, spending time with family and friends, and cheering other people on as they run long distances.

August Membership Spotlight - Aminah Weaver

Favorite Quote: Don't just teach your kids to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything - George Carlin

Who are you and what do you do?My name is Aminah Weaver.  I am a retired preschool teacher.  I am now planning my retirement career which includes presenting professional development workshops, parent workshops, and being a member of The Public Pokicy Committee for ILAEYC. 

How Long have you been in the field? I have been in Early Childhood for 30 years. 

Why did you join Illinois AEYC?  I joined Illinois AEYC to give back to the profession by sharing my experiences, my knowledge, and my leadership skills.

What are some professional experiences you are most proud?  Some of the accomplishments I am proud of are going back to school to get my Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Development from Kendall College, and then earning my Illinois Directors Credential Level 2. 

What is your favorite Illinois AEYC memory? My favorite memory of ILAEYC is attending the NAEYC Public Policy Forum 2018, in Arlington, Va. It was professional, informative, well organized, and one of the best professional development decisions I have made.

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? One of the best benefits of being a part of NAEYC is being kept abreast of the latest research concerning Children and Families.

Favorite children's book? My favorite book is I love Myself by Karen Beaumont.

July Member Spotlight - Patricia Steinhaus

Quote: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world - Nelson Mandela

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Patricia Steinhaus and I am currently a tenured professor in the Early Childhood Program at Chicago State University.

How long have you been in the field? 

I have been an early childhood professional since 1972 when I started as a teacher in a two-year old classroom at a newly opened and publicly funded center connected to a housing project in Rockford where I also served as the director for two years. I taught state prekindergarten for 10 years, worked as a principal consultant in the Early Childhood Division of Illinois State Board of Education and will be beginning my 19thyear on the faculty at Chicago State University this fall. There was a nine-year (1975-1984) period when I was home with my very young children.

Why did you join ILAEYC? 

My colleagues and I were concerned about advocacy issues in the late 1980’s. We started a chapter in the Madison/Montgomery area of the state because none of us was willing to drive to Springfield to participate in the affiliate there. I served as their first president.

How long have you been a member?  30 years

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of?

  • Working with parents (through the local community college) to enhance their understanding of using books with their children at the prekindergarten where I taught. I wanted to do this so badly that I overcame my deep and paralyzing anxiety of leading and talking with groups of adults (at the age of 45!).
  • Publishing a curriculum book through Gryphon House with my prekindergarten colleagues.
  • Going back to school when my son went off to college to complete my terminal (PhD) degree at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (finishing at the age of 53). I did this while working at the State Board of Education as a Principal Consultant in the Early Childhood Division when travel funds were available to visit prekindergarten programs on a regular basis. Between the course work and the program monitoring, it was the most valuable educational experience of my life.
  • Working for eight years as the primary professional development provider to the Hull House Organization’s two federal Early Reading First Grants and in doing so, working in collaboration with the grant’s literacy coaches in Head Start and Prekindergarten classrooms across the city of Chicago. The grants represented a model of what, in my humble opinion, professional development should be: college credit, and on-sight observation and coaching. It was incredibly rewarding to be a part of classrooms that transitioned to environments where children engaged in deep learning through play and really meaningful interactions with their teachers.
  • Managing a Grow Your Own Teachers Grant which supported individuals from the local community in pursuing teacher licensure at Chicago State University. The grant lasted 9 years, before it fell victim to the state budget. Some students continued on after the program ended. One of the last of the students completed her degree as a non-licensure student this spring and is returning to school this fall to pursue a degree in counseling. The grant provided financial support for tuition, books, child care and transportation. It is slowly making a come-back.
  • Serving as the Chairperson of the Literacy Development of Young Children, the early literacy interest group of the International Literacy Association (formerly the International Reading Association). The last annual symposium which I organized included David Pearson, Susan B. Neuman, and Lea McGee, three giants in the field of literacy research, such a rich dialog about literacy development! I was able to take one of my graduate students to present at the poster session segment of the event.
  • Teaching! Young and old. It brings me joy!

What is your favorite ILAEYC Memory? 

  • Attendance at the first “Play in Peoria” Conference where 5 of my prekindergarten colleagues and I shared a room and the conference. Professional development funds were in just as short supply then, as they are now! We did our first presentation and were scared to death!!
  • Serving as the Co-Chair of the State Conference in 1994 which hosted Lilian Katz, Greg, and Steve and an evening of wine and cheese event at the Old State Capitol Building, with a tour.
  • Serving as Illinois AEYC President 1998-2000, with then Treasurer Jane Thomas and President-Elect, Jan Deissler. We did the work of opening up the first state office in Springfield and hiring our first Office Manager, financed by a McCormick Tribune grant and approved in part because of the DHS Statewide Accreditation Grant that Jane and I wrote on the plane on our way to the NAEYC Advocacy Conference that April (which I think no longer exists, too bad!!) in Washington, DC.
  • Believe it or not, the Re-Affiliation Project (many of you I’m sure probably do not remember it). I was tasked as the Past President with traveling the state and meeting with each of the (then 25) affiliates to help them re-write their by-laws, apply for 503c status, talk about their missions and goals, etc. I still meet people today, nearly 20 years later, with whom I worked in that capacity. It was a heart-warming and rewarding, and hard work!
  • Participating on a panel of Past Presidents at the conference in 2016 with Jan Deissler, Lilian Katz and others. 

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? 

The advocacy capacity of the organization in Illinois!

What is your favorite Children’s book and why? 

One of the courses I teach is children’s literature, so I don’t really have onefavorite. My most recent discovery is Tomas` and the Library Lady by Pat Mora, illustrated by Raul Colon. It is about a migrant family who travels to Iowa each summer to work in the fields. Tomas`, encouraged by his grandfather, gets up the courage to go to the library, one of those old Carnegie Libraries that were funded in communities all over the nation. Reading became his refuge, and reading to his family, his “calling”. It’s a very poignant story about the power of reading, developing relationships and saying goodbyes.

It’s one of my current favorites because, while I was by no means a migrant growing up, I did go to schools in eight different towns in three different states during my 13 years of public schooling and spent 4 of those years in a small town in Iowa that had a library like the one describe in the story. Reading was also my refuge. Good books speak to the reader in some way.

Family, Hobbies, etc…..

  • I have two grown children (a son and daughter) and four grandchildren, one of whom lives fewer than 10 minutes away. Lucky, lucky me!! My daughter and three-year-old granddaughter and I have spent Tuesday mornings (free for teachers day) at the Morton Arboretum this summer, enjoying the out-of-doors, the Troll Exhibit, the Children’s Section, and their library, packing a picnic lunch to eat before heading home ahead of the heat.
  • Gardening! I waited 38 years of living in different dwellings while raising a family, until nine years ago when I bought the house I live in now, to have a garden. It is my “Happy Place”. From April to November I spend as much time in it as is feasible, which easily translates to 20 hours/week during the summer months. Some of the trees and shrubs make it as beautiful in the winter as it is in the spring, summer and fall. I am so grateful for this!
  • Reading is still my (other) refuge. About 6 years ago I joined an organized book club and have become a nonfiction enthusiast. I now get to read for pleasure again – outside my profession – a sanctioned excuse to set aside a Saturday once a month to settle down in a comfortable chair to read uninterrupted for a whole day and evening!

July 2018 Member Spotlight - Vita Bates

Who are you and what do you do? 

I am currently retired. Though I am retired, I remain a member of the South Suburban Chapter of ILAEYC and serve on the board as a member-at-large. I also am part of the SAM project.

How long have you been in the field?

I began my career in early childhood as a Montessorian in 1970 and soon opened Hickory House Montessori School. After returning to school for my master’s degree, I joined the faculty at Moraine Valley Community College and there I directed the lab school and taught in the Child Care program. I also joined the South Suburban AEYC and served on the board in many capacities.

Why did you join Illinois AEYC?

In 1971, I traveled to Reggio Emilia. That experience greatly influenced my work with teachers and young children. It was amazing to be there with Lillian Katz and spend time with Eileen Borghia and the rest of the delegates. It was a magical time.

What is your favorite ILAEYC Memory? 

One of the most memorable positions I held was that of representative to ILAEYC board. What an exciting time it was to be in the field and be in the company of all the movers and shakers in Illinois! Favorite memory: Attending the board meetings. I enjoyed the comradery of meeting with a glass of wine on the night before and the intense and rewarding meetings on Saturday. Driving down with Kerri Nolan was also a great time; we are life-long friends.

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of?

One of my favorite accomplishments on the SSAEYC board included starting a Director’s Network and working with them on Accreditation. The directors encouraged each other and great friendships were formed. They still meet on a regular basis and are an important part of our mission.

When the PreK at Risk program was developed, I was privileged to be a consultant; I was also PGA for a year as we encouraged young teachers to further their education.

 What is your favorite Children’s book and why? 

One of my favorite children’s books is The Best Nest, by P.D. Eastman. For me, it heralds spring. The children love it and are on a constant lookout for birds making nests and what they need. It paves the way for many projects.

Tell us about your family and hobbies: 

I spend my free time with my family. I am blessed with 14 grandchildren and 4 great-granddaughters! If there is any time left, I knit, crochet, read and have lunch with friends.

June 2018 Member Spotlight - Jessica Frederick


“The purpose of education: To enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them, so they can become.” -Sir Ken Robinson

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jessica Frederick and I am a kindergarten teacher at Bloom Community School.

How long have you been in the field? 

7 years.

Why did you join ILAEYC? 

To stay up to date on current Early Childhood Education research and be a part of the growth of NAEYC.

 How long have you been a member? 

I have been a member for 3 years.

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of?

I received the NAEYC Lasting Legacy Leadership scholarship two years ago and was able to attend my first NAEYC Annual Conference.

Co-presenting a seminar on the importance of risk in the early childhood classroom for two consecutive years. Last year we got to present at NAEYC’s Annual Conference, and it was amazing!

What is your favorite ILAEYC Memory? 

Presenting at the NAEYC Annual Conference and being able to have individual conversations with those who came to our session. Being an advocate for children in such an impactful way made me swell with pride.

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? 

Conference opportunities and getting the monthly subscription magazines.

What is your favorite Children’s book and why? 

“It's Okay To Be Different" by Todd Parr. Every school year I choose this book to be our first read aloud as a class, and as a new family. I want my students to know as soon as possible how valuable they are as individuals, no matter their differences. More so, I want them to know that I see that value within each of them. This book has a great balance of humor and meaning and has always started great discussion on our very first day of school. I recently started reading this book on the last day of school too. We use that second time as a reflection on our school year and why we value each other as individuals.

Family, Hobbies, etc…..

I am married to a fantastic guy who used to be a teacher himself. We have two crazy, adorable dogs. I am currently on my 4th year of playing roller derby. People usually don't expect that since I'm fairly small (5’0) and a teacher of young children. But it is tons of fun to have my students come cheer me on and watch me play! I also love getting a good coffee or chai tea with friends and colleagues to chat about life, and usually early childhood topics as well.

June Member Spotlight - Meet Neysa Riverea

Quote: The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ Maria Montessori

Who are you and what do you do?  I am Neysa Rivera and I am a Kindergarten teacher with Chicago Public Schools

How long have you been in the field? I have been with CPS for 24 years.

Why did you join ILAEYC? I have always looked to NAEYC as research base for anything I needed for my classroom - best practices and what is developmentally appropriate as kids don’t change but government initiatives do. I attended the NAEYC lobby day in Washington DC where I was introduced to members from the Illinois AEYC.

How long have you been a member? 2 years

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of?

I serve on the instructional leadership team at my school. My level of advocacy experience has always been at the school level informing my administrators, of developmental appropriate instructional practices, testing practices and school initiatives that are not appropriate for kindergarten. Last year, my colleagues and I were not happy with the Reach Teacher Evaluation Framework for evaluating kindergarten teachers. I reached out to the Chicago Teachers Union in the summer of 2016 stating the Reach Framework does not consider early childhood teacher practice for evaluation and does not include how five-year old children are able to respond to questioning and learning tasks. I was summoned to speak before a Joint Committee comprised of CPS employees and the Chicago Teachers Union. They asked me, “What do you think should be done?” I said “A panel of teachers should come together and look at each Domain and refer to our state standards and NAECY to align the Teacher Evaluation Framework with early childhood best practice”. Over the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity of working with a group of teachers from grades kindergarten to second grade and we produced an addendum for the Reach Teacher Evaluation that was released in September of 2017 district wide. I also volunteer with a mission organization “Army of the Kind” for the past five years and have traveled to Santo Domingo to teach children in an orphanage that are 2 to 3 grade levels behind.

What is your favorite ILAEYC Memory? Washington DC lobby day where I met Carol Weisheit. All the people in my group who participated were so welcoming and after witnessing them speak, felt empowered to speak to legislators as well. I was so impressed with the information they armed us with, the practice role-playing, and it helped put my insecurities aside. I felt connected to the people in the group and the legislative process.

What is your favorite Children’s book and why? Anything by Robert Munch but especially Love You Foreverbecause it talks about unconditional love. Even as our family structures are changing it still applies no matter who a child’s mother figure is:mother, aunt, or even a friend.

Family, Hobbies, etc.…. I have one daughter who is 19 and we like to take beach vacations whenever we can to have that rest and read a good a book. We are so busy all the time, we need that time together.

May 2018 Member Spotlight

Quote: A hundred years from now it won’t matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove . . . but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.

Who are you and what do you do? Jan Deissler. Retired after more than 40 years of teaching, advocacy and managing a CCR&R. Retired I am on the Board of the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria, distribute books to K-4 students 6 times a year at an inner city school, assist with an after school tutoring program, co-chair the local Delta Kappa Gamma chapter – an honorary for women teachers, chair the Outreach Committee for our church and whatever else needs to be done.

How long have you been in the field? Since 1970 when I went to Illinois Central College to teach in the Child Development Program and developed the college’s child development center.

Why did you join ILAEYC? A Board Member at the college was attending the Midwest AEYC (I think – don’t think it was NAEYC) Conference in St. Louis and she thought I should go. Well – the rest is history. I was a conference ‘junkie’.

How long have you been a member? 46 years

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of?

  • Charter member/founder of Heart of IL AEYC.
  • My work with the IL AEYC – secretary, Central Region VP, President twice and affiliate (now chapter) delegate to the Board
  • Chaired 2 Illinois AEYC Conferences
  • Chaired Midwest AEYC Conference twice
  • Developing the Child Care Connection CCR&R in Peoria region.
  • Chairing the first ever Outreach Committee at our church – encouraging us to minister to the families around the church as well as reach out to potential new members from all over the area.
  • Campaigning at the NAEYC Leadership Conference for Lana Hostetler to become President of NAEYC – and again when Lori Longueville became secretary.

What is your favorite ILAEYC Memory? There are so many don’t know if I can name just one. Board Meetings when Deb Cassidy was the President, having Agnes Kovacs compliment on my sharing a children’s book to open the Board Meeting – making wonderful life-long friends. Sharing wine with my friend Shirley Dean near the end of her life – we had a wonderful evening.

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? I used to value the conferences, but once retired not feasible to take part in expensive events. Young Children – but again, meeting and working with nationally known early childhood professionals.

May 2018 Member Spotlight

I love this quote by George Carlin:

"Don’t just teach your kids to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything."

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Leslie Layman and I am the Coordinator for the Child Development Program at Harry S Truman College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. I write and teach our INCCRRA approved ECE professional development, manage our Child Development lab spaces, support with curriculum and credentialing, and also serve as adjunct faculty for Child Development courses.

How long have you been in the field? 

I took my first job as an in-home therapist for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in 2005. I have worked either in service to children and families or in social work since that time. I have been in my current position since 2015.

 Why did you join ILAEYC? 

Truman College was one of the first community colleges to seek and receive NAEYC Higher Ed accreditation. I became interested in ILAEYC as I began working on our curriculum and accreditation. I appreciated the idea of there being a unified voice that spoke to best practice and supported ECE professionals. I became more involved in our local organizing and now proud to be the Secretary of the Chicago Chapter of AEYC!

How long have you been a member?

Since 2016.

What are some professional accomplishments you are proud of?

I am very proud of the accessible professional development offerings that we have built out Truman College for ECE professionals. We are currently, thanks to a grant from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, partnering with Western Illinois University to provide Math Based professional development to ECE professionals. I am also quite proud to have been involved in the create of the ECE Tinker lab at Truman College. As far as we know, it is the only one of its kind in the state!

What NAEYC benefit do you most value? 

I appreciate hearing the voices of other practitioners through the website and the periodicals.

What is your favorite Children’s book and why? 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (I even have it in more than one language!) I love that this book shows a child being naughty and getting into some trouble and makes it a normal part of his relationship with his mother. I also love the alliterative langue, the repetition, and the exciting illustrations.

Family, Hobbies, etc.

I love to spend time with outside with my partner and I love to exercise, especially boxing. Much of our family lives far away, so we have built a small Chicago Family and we love to spend time cooking and travelling with them.

April 2018 Member Spotlight - Moushumi Kundu

Quote: “Being with children is a passion for me. When kids come running up to me to give me hugs, that makes my day.”

Moushumi Kundu joined NAEYC just 4 months ago and has become active within the state affiliate, Illinois AEYC, as the newest board member representing Region 5. Moushumi taught elementary and middle school in India prior to coming to the United States in 1997 with her husband and her older daughter. With a degree in secondary education, she has been working at the Rock Island County Regional Office of Education, as an Instructional Coach and Family Support Specialist, in the Early Childhood Department since 2015. Before then, she has worked as a supervisor of Headstart centers at Community Action of Eastern Iowa, and had also been a substitute teacher at all grade levels in the Rock Island county. Moushumi became involved with Illinois AEYC while working on the preschool expansion program and realized the two organizations work in tandem towards the same goals. We interviewed Moushumi, read more about her below!

What Accomplishments are you most proud of?

One of the recent accomplishments, that I am proud of, was when we were awarded the “Award of Excellence”at the Leadership Conference in Wheeler, and I had the opportunity to accept the award on behalf of our team. I am also proud of having received the highest level on the Quality Rating Scale for one of my Headstart classrooms at Community Action of Eastern Iowa.
I am also proud of my husband and our two daughters. Our older daughter has finished her PhD in Neuroscience from UIUC, and has accepted a post doctoral position in Portland, and our younger daughter is a freshman in college.

What is your favorite Children’s book and why?

My favorite children’s book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle because there is so much built into the story. It’s visually beautiful, has a sensory component, mathematical concepts, and concept building.

What are your hobbies and how do you spend your free time?

I am a voracious reader and like to read a traditional book instead of an e-reader. I also enjoy arts and craft, music and cooking, among other things. Now that our children are all grown up, I enjoy the ‘me’ time that I am able to have for myself.