November 2022 Early Childhood Champions

Featured Spotlight

The Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, in partnership with We Care for Kids, launched a year-long campaign to highlight the importance of the early childhood workforce. Each month for the next 12 months, we will highlight two winners who were nominated by their communities to win the Early Childhood Champion award. Each winner receives a $1,000 gift and a plaque in honor of their commitment to excellence and service to their communities. Learn more about our winners below!

Jannette Vilela | Omaha, NE

Jannette Vilela is an early educator at Educare of Omaha at Indian Hill. She has been a child care provider for 15 years and says she became a teacher aide because of her love of being around children who are eager to learn. “I think teaching is one of the greatest professions there are out there we are helping them grow as individuals as we teach them the knowledge that they didn’t know before. Seeing a student learn and excel at something is genuinely a rewarding experience.”

Jannette says she has always loved working with children, and working at Educare has been a great opportunity to make a real positive impact in her community and provide children with the skills necessary to grow and succeed in life.

“This award means a lot to me. As it represents the hard work, the dedication, and the way I‘ve given it my all into the work I do. It represents me putting all of my heart into helping our kids and their families. To put all your knowledge and abilities in practice and to see the outcomes of your work, reflected in the kids when they learn something new, when they smile, seeing their faces full of happiness it makes me proud that I’m making a difference in each and every one of them.”

Congratulations, Jannette!

“Jannette is an asset to Educare of Omaha and has an immense impact on our community. While serving at-risk students at our center, Janette comes each day ready for the challenge. While the pressures of short staffing have made the challenges even greater, that does not stop Janette… She is a strong, dedicated, and loving teacher to the children who need it most.”

Jannette Vilela Nomination Submission

Shannon Stutzman | Columbus, NE

Shannon Stutzman is the owner of Stutzman’s Daycare. She’s been a child care provider for 24 years and started her journey after struggling to find a child care provider for her daughter. “During our search, becoming a provider always sat in the back of my mind. About a year and a half after our son was born I felt like I was missing out on my children’s milestones and really started thinking of becoming a childcare provider. The care and love that our children received, I wanted to do that and share that with others.”

Shannon received her CDA credential in June, is involved in Rooted in Relationships, Step Up to Quality, an is an Elevated Network Provider. Shannon says she strives to be the best provider she can be – continually taking classes and trainings to better her program because she recognizes how important the first years are in a child’s life.

“I’m amazed every single day by the things that the children have learned, say and do! It’s like getting a prize out of a Cracker Jack box, you never know what you’re going to get! The children that I have cared for become my children and I never really think of how long I’ve been a provider until we get invited to their graduations and weddings.”

“Shannon truly loves every child that she cares for. She comes to their extracurricular activities to cheer them on, she gets every child a birthday and Christmas gift every year. She is not only your child care provider, but becomes a permanent member of your family. My children are out of the daycare age, but Shannon continues to care about them and support them.”

Shannon Stutzman Nomination Submission

The Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative is a proud partner of We Care for Kids, a statewide campaign to build support for quality early childhood education in Nebraska. Join us and sign up to receive campaign updates, learn about events in your community, and get access to resources to help raise awareness.