April. 27, 2012
Three "Friends of Children Awards" were presented at this year's Fabulous Friday, a professional development conference for child care providers and early childhood educators, that was held April 13 on the campus of Shawnee State University. This year's recipients include Trisha Schmidt, Hetty Phillips, and Mark and Virgie Hunter.
The Friend of Children Award is given to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the field of early childhood education and has had an impact on the needs, rights and well-being of children. The award is presented each year during the National Association for the Education of Young Children's "Week of the Young Child."
During the annual luncheon, Beth Rice, director of the Dr. Miller and Genevieve Toombs Children's Learning Center at Shawnee State University, presented the award to Trisha Schmidt and Hetty Phillips.
Schmidt works for the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities and specializes in pediatric therapy. She serves children from birth through age 21. She has dedicated her life to helping children and she has chaired the committee that planned and developed a handicapped accessible playground and a recreational area at the Vern Riffe School and she also developed a summer program for children with disabilities.
Schmidt is the assistant director for Southern Ohio Museum's Cirque d' Art Theater where she choreographs dances, sews and designs costumes for the students. Cirque d' Art is unique in that children with disabilities can dance and perform alongside their peers.
Hetty Phillips, or "Miss Hetty" as everyone knows her, is a lifelong educator and has touched hundreds of lives in her nearly 50-year career.
"Scores of children and families have been blessed for five decades," said one of several nominations the committee received for Miss Hetty. "She radiates kindness and patience. She is an inspiration to all of us who know her," said another. "She has a way of teaching a child through love. The lessons she taught me nearly 30 years ago are still with me to this day," still another.
Miss Hetty was at the CLC when it first started 13 years ago. She writes children's books and she is a lyricist. Her dream is to have her own songs published. She has demonstrated leadership and she has been a conference presenter both locally and on a state level. Her love for children is seen every day by her co-workers, friends, family and students.
Cindy Ferguson, adjunct faculty in Teacher Education and former director of the Children's Learning Center, was inspired to write a poem about Miss Hetty:
A Golden Tribute to a Golden Girl
A half century ago, they say
A beautiful teacher began one day
Miss Hetty's her name, there is only one,
Who's energetic, inspiring, and makes learning fun.
We celebrate now, her near 50 years
With smiles, and memories, and blessings, and cheers
She's celebrated children through her work everyday
It's our pleasure to salute her
On this golden day!
The third Friend of Children Award was presented by Charles Kemp, special education coordinator and pre-school supervisor of the Portsmouth City Schools, to Mark and Virgie Hunter. The Hunters recently worked with Portsmouth City Schools to implement a backpack feeding program, Steven's Power Pack Program, for more than 100 children weekly. Funding from The Steven Hunter Hope Fund provides nutritious meals in kid-friendly, easy to prepare, packaging to these children weekly so they are ensured of having food over the weekend.
Additionally, the Hunters have coordinated with the Free Food Store Bank to bring trucks of food to the families of these children so they can pick up food for an upcoming holiday. They carry on the dream their late son had to help those in need in the Portsmouth City Schools.
The goal of the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund is to provide goods, services and funds for the benefit of the students with financial needs, providing shoes, coats, clothing, school supplies college entrance exams and ACT/SAT fees, field trips and tutoring, among other things.