Roxanne Powell, vice president of the Monroe County Association for the Education of Young Children (MCAEYC) and Education Coordinator for Pocono Alliance, addressed the Pleasant Valley board of education, explaining how each year MCAEYC looks for educators, community members and business leaders in the county that stands out as a strong leader, advocate for, and supporter of young children and their families.

"This year, we're proud to present the 2011 Children's Champion Award to Erica Walter, assistant principal at Chestnuthill Elementary School," she said.

Powell remarked that the reasons Walter was chosen was because of her involvement in the Pocono Alliance's School of Readiness Committee, "taking a lead role in creating Kindergarten transition plans for the Pleasant Valley School District," and serving as the district's transition coordinator and grant writer.

According to Powell, "Erica truly supports the professional development of the child care teaching staff. She assisted in planning professional development opportunities for child care practitioners and presented at both the Literacy and Math Workshops.

She connects families to community resources by hosting the Healthy Start Early Childhood Screening Program in PV school buildings.

Walter has served as a mentor for certified teachers in the PreK Counts Program at the Growing Place where she includes those teachers into the school districts Induction Plan.

Walter has led two years of round table discussions that were available to all preschools and Kindergarten teachers involved in the Pleasant Valley School District. The first year the discussions revolved around what is involved in the Kindergartener's day. "The discussions included everything from schedules to assessments and what we have in common and how we are different. The second year Erica arranged for Pre K staff to visit a Kindergarten classroom and talk with the teachers about their day. There was a presentation on the LETERS program and how it can be incorporated into the pre K classroom. To end the year the Kindergarten teachers are coming to visit the Pre K classes and meet with teachers to get a well rounded view of the preschool programs in their district.

Walter also schedules visits for the children entering Kindergarten. Many of her staff take children and families on tours and answer questions about Kindergarten. Walter also reads to the children at many of the programs.

One child care director said, "Erica has a true joy of children which is evident when she is in the room with them. Her excitement is infectious and could not be more needed to assist the connection between Pre K and school districts. This award could not go to a more enthusiastic supporter of the Pre K programs in Pleasant Valley and all of Monroe County."

Powell said the quote is testimony to the passion Walter has for supporting the early care community and the public school.

Powell also acknowledged other PV educators for their commitment to MCAEYC. They are: The School Readiness Committee which began in August 2005 and Carol Geary, PV assistant superintendent/ curriculum, who attended the first meeting; Suzanne Potts, past member and participated in the development of Getting Ready for Kindergarten Calendar; Julie Weiss, member; Anne Miller and Joanne Fisher, current members.