AYER -- Nine Ayer Early Childhood Education professionals completed a four-session fellowship organized and sponsored by the CAYL Institute and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care

Tara Bozek, Deanna Christie, Rebecca Goldwaite, Amber Grantham, Lori Ann Klinkenberg, Jonie Latimer-Brady, Melissa Nikander, Martha Pierce and Jacob Watkins successfully completed the 2013 Early Educators Fellowship initiative.

Dr. Valora Washington, the CAYL Institute's president stated, "The work that the Ayer district team has completed with the CAYL Institute is a first in Massachusetts. We have brought together several educators who serve young children including elementary schools, head start and family child care."

The Ayer team used the fellowship to focus on ways to improve the quality of early care and education in their home district. Washington commended them stating, "The Ayer educators successfully began to create a bridge between the preschools and elementary schools in their community."

As part of the Fellowship, the team had the opportunity to work closely with both state and national leaders who joined the 2013 Fellows in an in-depth exploration of four issues: building anti-bias education, family engagement in promoting school success, standards for early education programs, and best ways to assess young children.

The Fellowship was based on the goals of both the Massachusetts Departments of Early Education and Care and Elementary and Secondary Education. The fellowship's main goal was to mend the fractured field of early education by creating and ensure a rich collaboration amongst the state's early educators. The work of education is fractured into parts -- Head Start, Family Child Care, Early Intervention, and public school systems -- but children are whole.

The 2013 Early Educators Fellowship Initiative took place in Leominster, and brought together over 150 early educators from all over the field of early education for a shared professional development experience.

The meetings were more than just educators gathering to speak about the field; the fellows built a learning community and a sense of shared purpose, identity and responsibility, something important to succeed at changing the future of early childhood education.