Tammy Gosley of Bennington is the 2023 Vermont Early Childhood Educator of the Year. Gosley is a Lead Teacher with Head Start / Early Head Start of Bennington County, a program of United Counseling Service. The prestigious annual award honors exceptional early childhood educators and spotlights the importance of high-quality early childhood education for Vermont’s children, families and communities.
The award was announced on November 7 at the VTAEYC Annual Conference, in a ceremony sponsored by Mascoma Bank and held at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) CEO Michelle Kang attended the award ceremony to celebrate VTAEYC members’ accomplishments and to recognize Vermont as a model for early childhood education system reform nationwide.
In addition to Early Childhood Educator of the Year, VTAEYC presented awards that recognize excellence and advocacy among individuals at all career stages who are working both within and in support of early childhood education. The awardees are:
- Children’s Champion: State Representative Jessica Brumsted of Shelburne
- Distinguished Service: Betsy Rathbun-Gunn of Manchester, director of Bennington County Head Start / Early Head Start
- Early Childhood Education Student of the Year: Matthew Moore of Sharon, recent graduate of the Community College of Vermont
- Emerging Leader: Caitlin D’Onofrio of Burlington, early childhood educator at Robin’s Nest Children’s Center
- Outstanding Members: Dr. Kaitlin Northey of Burlington, assistant professor of early childhood education at the University of Vermont; and April Zajko of St. Johnsbury, early childhood educator and Community College of Vermont faculty member
Early Childhood Educator of the Year Gosley has been part of Head Start for more than 25 years. She became involved as a parent: her three sons attended Head Start, and are now adults with thriving careers. It didn’t take long for Gosley to discover early childhood education was her calling. She was hired first as a cook, then as an assistant teacher, and eventually became a lead teacher.
With scholarship and mentoring support through VTAEYC career development services, including TEACH® Early Childhood Vermont, Gosley earned first a child care credential, then an apprenticeship, an associate degree, and finally a bachelor’s degree and Agency of Education teacher licensure.
“Tammy Gosley is celebrated for her high-quality, child-centered, developmentally appropriate practice and her skill at adapting curriculum to her students’ interests,” said VTAEYC executive director Sharron Harrington. “Equally impressive is her career-long commitment to her own education and learning.”
Gosley’s primary goal in her classroom of three- to five-year-olds is to provide a safe and loving environment for them to develop fundamental social skills. “What really motivates me is their social-emotional development,” Gosley said. “I want to teach them everything: how a plant grows, the days of the week, the colors, the ABCs. But if they don’t have that solid social-emotional development, then I’m not going to teach them anything, and their first grade teacher is not going to teach them anything, and their tenth grade teacher is not going to teach them anything.”
Grace Winslow, health manager for Head Start / Early Head Start of Bennington County, was one of Gosley’s nominators for Early Childhood Educator of the Year. Winslow said of Gosley, “She is kindness personified. She is so smart, and she’s a great role model for other teachers and for the kids.”
With award sponsorship from Let’s Grow Kids, Gosley will receive a $2,500 prize and all expenses paid to a National Association for the Education of Young Children conference as well as the state conference.