It was a great start to October for Shelley Zajsek who is the manager of the Little Chimps Preschool and facilitator of the Golden StrongStart program. Zajsek has received the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education honour.
“Good teachers help lay the foundation with which we interpret and navigate the world. They make a valuable contribution to Canadians being among the brightest and most innovative citizens in the world,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It is a real privilege today to honour educators who have imparted their knowledge and inspiration to us and our children, helping all of us become the best we can be.”
Zajsek received a Certificate of Achievement and $1000 (for the pre school) for the award after she was nominated by residents in the community.
She explained when she found out she was one of the people chosen to receive the award she was shocked.
“I knew that they had nominated me but I didn’t give it much thought after that,” she said. “It is flattering and surprising. My reward is coming to work and I have a job that I absolutely love.”
After working in Ottawa for the Board of Education Zajsek worked with autistic children. When she came to Golden it was difficult to find a job in the school. She started off working in preschools and child care centres in Golden and discovered she loved working in the early childhood field.
“I lucked out and started working with the Anglican Church with their child minding facility,” she said. “I have been here (with Little Chimps) for three years now.”
The preschool and StrongStart program are set up in a room at Alexander Park Elementary School.
“It is really nice because we have StrongStart children who have been in the room with their parents who now come to preschool. It is just routine for them to be in this room and they have a comfort level of being in school,”she said. “When the time comes to go to school it is not a big shock to their system.”
StrongStart is a program where parents can come with their young children to the preschool and it gives them the chance to be the teachers.
“We know that parents are the first and most consistent teachers children will have in their lives,” she said.
She also wanted to gives thanks to the people who have been there for her as she has learned over time.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over the years,” she said.