Lemi is lone Neighbor Island educator honored

Michelle Lemi of the Child and Family Service Headstart preschool at Lihue Court Townhomes is the sole Neighbor Island honoree in the Good Beginnings Alliance 2006 Outstanding Early Childhood Professionals of the Year program.

She and the four other 2006 Circle of Honor awardees will be honored at a banquet March 31 at the Pacific Beach Hotel Grand Mauka Ballroom on O’ahu.

Lemi was one of 10 semi-finalists chosen by members of a community selection committee from a list of over 120 nominations submitted by parents and guardians.

She has been in the early-childhood-education field for 15 years, seven years as an aide, four years as an assistant, and four years as a head teacher.

Lemi was the first Good Beginnings Alliance recipient to receive a TEACH scholarship on Kaua’i, and was able to obtain her associate’s degree in early-childhood education in 2002 in the Kaua’i Community College early-childhood program.

She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree.

Asked what she likes most about working with 3- and 4-year-olds, Lemi said she enjoyed coming to work every day not knowing what to expect, and ready to face any challenges that may occur throughout the day.

The biggest reward she receives is seeing the smiles on each child’s face, and knowing she’s made a difference in their lives, Lemi said.

She also stated that she has been fortunate enough to work with members of very diverse families.

With this experience, she has gained a better perception of different cultures, family dynamics, and respect for all, she said.

Her role to the family members has been mentor, advocate, friend, resource person, and anything else that may be needed during their time together and beyond, she added.

She hopes to influence the children by instilling values, respect for themselves and others and the environment, and self-independence to become life-long learners.

When asked who the most influential person was to her as a child, she replied that it was her mother.

While she was growing up, her mom was a licensed childcare provider, and her parents were foster parents.

Their home was always open to the children and members of families she provided for and cared for. Watching her mom and helping her, love for children and members of families was instilled in Michelle Lemi, she said.

The letter that was submitted by a parent stated, “Michelle was a caring, kind-hearted, creative and patient teacher who is always there to lend a helping hand.

“She gets parents to volunteer in the program, and contributes to the community however she can,” said Nicole Walto, a Headstart parent.

“The children are encouraged to perform to their fullest potential. Ms. Michelle is an awesome teacher, and shows that education is very important,” Walto said.

Good Beginnings Alliance officials work to ensure that all of Hawai’i’s children will be safe, healthy and ready to succeed in school.

Working in partnership with families, communities, policy-makers, providers and advocates, Good Beginnings leaders shape public will and public policy, mobilize action, and maximize resources for young children.

For more information, visit the Web site, www.goodbeginnings.org, or call the Good Beginnings resource office at 632-2114.

The awards program celebrates and recognizes exceptional professionals who directly provide young children with quality early-learning experiences.

The winning early-childhood professionals have positively influenced the healthy development of young children, a Good Beginnings Alliance official said in a press release.

Quality early-childhood experiences provide support for children’s positive social and emotional development, which enhance their readiness for school and approaches to life-long learning.

Quality early-learning experiences benefit keiki by providing safe, stimulating and nurturing environments where they can grow and learn.

The Ninth Annual Ho’olaulima No Na Keiki Awards Ceremony is hosted by officials of the Good Beginnings Alliance, sponsored by leaders of Clear Channel Hawaii, Xerox Hawaii, Education Works and other local businesses.

The Good Beginnings Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose staff and volunteers promote and coordinate policies and programs that place a priority on a child’s first five years.

The Good Beginnings Alliance is a partnership among members of Hawai’i’s families, communities, businesses and the public sector, to identify needs and provide support for the safety, health, and school-readiness of young children throughout the state.

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