OCAEYC 2021 Awards & Grants

Applications were due February 21, 2021 and are no longer being accepted. If you have questions please email us.

Play Matters

This grant is for an ECE professional who supports play-based learning in the classroom or at their center. Awardee will specify how they support play and how they use play as a base for learning. The$300 is to be used for classroom enhancement or further training on the importance of play.

Advocacy Matters

This grant is for an ECE professional who supports advocacy in the field. Awardee will specify how they advocate for the profession and how they plan to continue to support advocacy. The $300 is to be used for continued professional development geared towards advocacy.

Education Matters

This grant is for an ECE professional who is enrolled in a college degree course (AA/AS or BA/BS) in the field of Early Childhood. The $300 is to be used for college expenses,tuition, or books. Proof of enrollment in higher education required.

Four Awards Available

Outstanding ECE professional or program. – The Outstanding early childhood education professional or program* is an individual or entity nominated by their peer(s) that strives to support the core values of the Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children(OCAEYC). These individuals/programs go above and beyond what is normally required of themselves and their work to ensure that all children, families, and communities have equitable access to developmentally appropriate high quality early learning. These individuals/programs align with one or more of the OCAYEC core values; 1) support professionals working with children birth-eight, 2)advocate high standards of and improve working conditions in programs for young children, 3) promote public understanding of issues effecting children and families, 4) keep informed of and collaborate with other groups concerned with the welfare and education of young children,and 5) strive to build a strong diverse and inclusive organization.
*Administrators/Director (outstanding program) and Nominees(outstanding professionals) must be current member to qualify

Take a look at our 2020 awardees!

Thank you to everyone who applied for OCAEYC Grants and/or nominated people for Outstanding Professionals and Programs this year. We had over 87 people apply for awards and grants this year! The awards and grants committee are honored to recognize the following awardees for 2020.

Grant Awardees:
Each awardee will receive $300 to support the grant they applied for, as well as an OCAEYC Standard Membership.

Outstanding Professional and/or Program Awardees
Each awardee will receive a certificate of recognition and paid registration for the 2021 OCAEYC Conference.

Play Matters
Collette McClellan, Saddleback College Child Development Center 

Here is how Collette supports and will continue to support play at her center:

“I was educated and trained in the importance of play and strive to provide both child-driven and teacher-facilitated experiences for the children in my care. Providing an environment with open-ended materials along with inviting and intentional provocations has been a key to child success and growth in my classroom. Play allows children to use their interest, creativity and imagination while developing language, physical, cognitive and social/emotional skills. I have always loved the use of loose parts and the unlimited possibilities that they can provide. Should I receive this grant opportunity, I would like to further explore the use of loose parts for dramatic play settings. Since my outdoor environment has always been, and continues to be, an extension of my classroom space; I would like to incorporate new materials and storage for open-ended dramatic play experiences that puts the learning back into the hands of the children. Additionally, this amazing opportunity will benefit not only the children in my care, but also the college students I mentor as they are beginning their early childhood careers.”

Education Matters
Ingrid Cabrera,
Garden Grove School District

Here is how Ingrid will continue her educational goals in the coming year:

“I am currently attending California State University, Fullerton. I am one semester away from attaining my Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Child Development. I want to continue my education by completing a teaching credential program in order to pursue a career as a Preschool Teacher in Special Education. I want to help those students with disabilities become mainstream in society."

Advocacy Matters
The LBGTQ Center OC 

Here is how the LGBTQ Center will continue to support advocacy for families and youth:

“The goal of the LGBT/ECE Project is to support classrooms and schools in showing more representation of LGBTQ families, use more inclusive language and increase knowledge of gender identity and expression in young children. Through staff trainings and the use of children’s literature that embraces themes of diversity in themselves and in others our hope is to make our community safe and affirming for LGBTQ children and families.The Grant would be used to continue purchasing children's literature for the LGBTQ library. We are seeking books that are diverse and welcoming for preschool children through young adults. Books with positive representations of the LGBTQ people, written by LGBTQ authors and their allies.

Outstanding Professional 
Joan Lundbohm,
Director Our Saviors Preschool in San Clemente

Here are some of the comments that were mentioned about Joan by the people who nominated her:

Joan is always dedicated to making sure she is doing everything she can to support her staff, parents and children's needs at our preschool. She strives for greatness and is always trying to make sure that she is going above and beyond to make sure our school is a quality learning school for the children. She breathed new life into the school by bringing on new staff to provide developmentally appropriate practices and a play-based learning curriculum. With the growth of the school she then saw a need that the local community was lacking and added an infant center. During the uncertainty of Covid-19, she put the health and financial well-being of our staff first. She has been informative, resourceful and caring.

Outstanding Professional-Dr. Seema Choudhary, Director/Owner of Montessori Preschool in Irvine & Lake Forest 

Here are some of the comments that were mentioned about Dr. Seema by the person who nominated her:

Dr. Seema Choudhary is an integral part of the Orange County community. She is an experienced and qualified expert in the field of Early Child Education and a Child Care Committee member with the city of Irvine which supports and serves early childhood professionals. I appreciate her commitment and dedication not only as a community leader but also her genuine enthusiasm as a community worker. Her passion and zeal for collaboration with various organizations has led to her work with Pretend City Children's Museum, Irvine. She hosted the Indian festivals of Holi & Vasant Panchami at the Pretend City premises in order to spread awareness and festivity. She is also a team member of Irvine Global Village Festival Committee. . Dr. Seema Choudhary is also the founder of the Orange County India & OC Indian Women Association which not only serves the Indian community but also encourages and embraces diversity. 

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Outstanding Program

Orange Coast College (OCC) Lab School

The Early Childhood Lab School serves as a teacher demonstration site and works in collaboration with the Early Childhood Education (ECE) department at OCC. Lab School teachers implement an emergent curriculum and create Reggio Emilia inspired classroom settings. Teachers utilize the California Preschool Learning Foundations and Frameworks on a daily basis. 

In April 2020, Distance Learning became a new reality for the Lab School community as a whole. The teachers had no hesitation during this time. Remote learning was foreign, yet they stepped up and developed "at home learning plans". Zoom calls are being held two times a week to keep children and families connected. Curriculum plans are sent out to parents weekly and pictures of children engaged in learning are posted on different media accounts for all to see.

This program meets the criteria for Outstanding ECE Program because of its model to provide a “lab” for hands-on real-world experience for ECE students and the Lab School teachers who educate not only our youngest learners, but college students and parents.