Jennifer Klutz ’07, a lead teacher at the Reich College of Education’s (RCOE) Lucy Brock Child Development Laboratory Program (Lucy Brock), has been awarded the Dr. Deborah ‘Deb’ Cassidy Leadership Award for a Master's student at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (UNC-Greensboro). She will be honored on May 20, 2020, in a small ceremony with the faculty from UNCG Human Development and Family Studies department, alongside Dr. Cassidy's partner, Rosemare Vardell.
This semester, Klutz completed UNC-Greensboro’s M.Ed. Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development program, with a concentration in the leadership and program administration. She completed her B.S. in child development, birth-kindergarten from Appalachian State University. Her internship through UNC-Greensboro sought to improve teacher education and preparedness of students to provide high-quality care through an online tool she created to train and orient students at Appalachian State University who work in the campus child care centers.
“This award has driven me to continue leading, encouraging, and promoting fairness for all those I have the pleasure of serving every day,” said Klutz.
“I am humbled and honored to be given this leadership award in the honor of Dr. Deborah Cassidy,” said Klutz. “Deb focused her work advocating for early childhood teachers around the world. She has inspired me to promote equality for all the children, families, and students I work with on a daily basis.”
“This award has driven me to continue leading, encouraging, and promoting fairness for all those I have the pleasure of serving every day,” she continued.
Dr. Andrea Anderson, director for Lucy Brock said Dr. Cassidy was a leader in the field of early childhood education and was an advocate for all children before her untimely passing. “Those of us who have been around for a while understand the magnitude of this award,” she noted. “Jennifer displays so many of the qualities and practices of social justice and equity valued by Dr. Cassidy.”
“Jennifer understands the best educators never stop learning,” Anderson added. “She has a heart for service and it shows in her work with students, children, families, and colleagues.”
“Jennifer has been a leader in her work at Lucy Brock, and it does not surprise me that it shows in her graduate work as well,” said Dr. Denise Brewer, chair and associate professor in the Department of Family and Child Studies.
“It is evident in her work that she cares deeply for all children and families,” Brewer continued. “She understands empathy and demonstrates this within her work as if it is second nature. What a great model for our students! We are so fortunate to have Jennifer at Lucy Brock continuing her work with us!”
Impact of the Internship Project
Klutz’s internship project was devoted to ensuring that the student employees of Lucy Brock and Appalachian’s Child Development Center are well prepared and educated in order to provide the highest quality care.
She created training modules to orient university students to state regulations and introduce the philosophy of care and education at Appalachian to students. The training tool included videos, podcasts, documents, photos, and web links to provide students with appropriate knowledge of how to care for children ages birth to five.
In the evaluation of the project, both students and the lead teachers with whom they work indicated that the training was effective in preparing students for work in the center.
In her own classroom, Klutz mentored future educators as they developed their skills.
Finally, Klutz has demonstrated a commitment to social justice, writing in her portfolio paper: “Every leader needs to believe in social justice for all people. One must acknowledge that not everyone starts life at the same place. In acknowledging this fact, one shows that your starting place does not have to be your ending place. We have to give a voice to all those that are underrepresented in life.”
The graduate committee noted, “Through her work to strengthen teacher education programs and her commitment to social justice, she demonstrates qualities that reflect the priorities of Deborah Cassidy.”
About the Dr. Deborah ‘Deb’ Cassidy Leadership Award
The Deb Cassidy Leadership Award is given in honor of Dr. Deborah Cassidy, who focused her research, teaching, leadership and advocacy on behalf of early childhood teachers and early childhood students at UNC-Greensboro.
Beginning in 2018, this award is given to recognize, reward and encourage demonstrated leadership in promoting educational equity and fairness for all young children by ensuring that teachers are well educated and compensated and culturally responsive to children and families. Candidates for this award are students who carry out their work collaboratively; are inclusive; show integrity; are persistent; take risks and incorporate social change.
Students who are in their final year of the Master of Education in the Birth-Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Studies in Education and Development Program with a concentration in Early Childhood Leadership & Program Administration are eligible to be nominated based on work in their final capstone projects. Nominations come from Birth-Kindergarten Graduate Faculty, and the Birth-Kindergarten Graduate Committee are responsible for choosing the two candidates through a voting process.