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

Meet Jan Deissler

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

Meet Leslie Layman

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

Meet Moushumi Kundu

“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.