The Transylvania Times -

Smart Start Dinner Honors Early Childhood Educators


July 12, 2018

Courtesy photo

Pictured (left to right) are Maureen Copelof, Deb Tibbetts, Judy Nebrig, Shirley Cox and Kae Parker.

On June 13, Smart Start of Transylvania County hosted its annual professional learning dinner to celebrate the academic achievements of local early childhood educators whose pursuit of a degree in the early childhood field is supported by cash grants through Smart Start.

By offering grant money to students who achieve above average grades and maintain employment at a single local-licensed childcare center, Smart Start helps professional learners earn degrees while ensuring that children from birth to 5 in the community benefit from high quality care. Smart Start's goal is to build a thriving professional community amongst local early childhood educators who uplift individual children, schools, families and, ultimately, the entire community.

Deb Tibbetts, executive director of Smart Start of Transylvania, honored graduates and awarded the first annual Transylvania County Champion for Early Childhood to local lifetime advocate and leader in the early childhood field, Judy Nebrig. Nebrig's background in early childhood, which includes authoring the book "Enhancing Early Emotional Development: Guiding Parents of Young Children," has given her the reputation as a local early childhood "guru" who is sought for participation on every board, organization or committee for which quality of life for young families is a goal.

Nebrig was also the keynote speaker at the dinner, encouraging the group of early childhood professionals to embrace their "calling" to improve and enhance the experience of young children. "It's during these years that the foundation is being built, small experience by small experience - for how they will relate to the world around them, especially the world of people and how they will think about themselves," she said.

Courtesy photo

Pictured are the attendees of the professional learning dinner.

In addition to referencing research and teaching techniques, such as those developed at Harvard University called "Principles to Improve Outcomes for Kids and Families," Nebrig stressed the importance of uplifting the profession of early childhood education. Smart Start, in its mission to influence the wellbeing of children, recognizes the need to advocate for professional development and compensation commensurate with the commitment of educators and the quality of their contributions to the lives of young children in Transylvania County.

Professional learners, Smart Start board members and staff, local childcare center directors and elected officials dined and bonded over shared experiences, needs and goals. Rebecca Snurr, Smart Start operations coordinator, was most inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of the educators, who work more than 30 hours per week in the classroom while taking classes and caring for their families.

To find out more about Smart Start of Transylvania County and the ways in which they support the well-being of children ages birth to 5, visit


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018