Here is a message from outgoing president, Gregg Cooper:

The old adage is all good things must come to an end. And I’ve come to the end of my tenure here as the president of the Arkansas Early Childhood Association. And I’ve been so blessed to work with this group. They mean so much to the early educators and to our youngest learners across Arkansas. We’ve had lots of good things to happen in the years of the pandemic. We had a couple of years that we really struggled with, and we hope that the organization, the association, has been there for you. We hope that we’ve been able to do some things to help you along the way. Of course, the big thing that we have going on now is our TEACH expansion. We’ve been able to expand the numbers of slots that we have as far as offering scholarships to those that are trying to further education in the early childhood field across Arkansas. And that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Paul Lazanby, he has been a tremendous worker for us. He served on the board and then was also our state TEACH manager and now serves as our executive director. And he’s done so many great things with that program. And we’re so thankful for Paul.

Of course, we have have had a couple years now without our conference, and we’ve all missed that. We did have the opportunity to have a virtual conference last year and of course, didn’t have that opportunity this year. But we had some, some things, some trainings and some things across the year that we think have really been beneficial. There’s lots of great things that happened when I came onto the board four years ago and Debbie Mays was was our president at the time, she laid out some things in front of us and as our goals and what they wanted to happen and she was a go getter, and she went and got ’em. And it was really a tough time following her, especially in the years of the pandemic, but we got things done. We still advocate, the association still advocates for those youngest learners for those in the profession, and we want to continue to do that.

Our incoming president is PJ Yarbrough and I know PJ will carry the mantle much better than I did. I appreciate her work and the effort that she’s put into it. Over the last couple of years we worked with the Bellwether Foundation to come up with a strategic plan. And we’re kind of working on that strategic plan as we look to further what’s going on and in the world of early childhood education in Arkansas. I couldn’t have done it without lots of people and I know that if I started trying to mention everybody, I’m going to miss somebody and I don’t want to offend anybody. So not going to mention just everybody that I’ve worked with, but it has been such a pleasure to see you at the conferences, it’s been a pleasure to see you in our zoom meetings and the times that we’ve been together. And I hope that I’ve left the early childhood field a little better than that it was when I came in.

I want to say that those of you that work in the in the schools and in the houses and in the homes and in the daycares. You’re my heroes, you’re out there every day and I know many of you who didn’t didn’t miss a beat during the pandemic and without you we really wouldn’t have been able to show the state and the nation that we are essential workers, that those of us that working in the field of early childhood have to be there. We are so appreciative to know that we could help you in the ways that we can help you. If there’s anything that I can do for you after my tenure is over again, like I said a couple of weeks and I’ll be through with with my presidency. But I still continue I will still continue to advocate for our youngest learners because I think they’re so important. There’s anything that I can ever do for you please don’t feel hesitant to reach out and just say hi sometimes. Hope you have a great rest of the year, a great next year and God bless you.

We would also like to thank our other outgoing board members Jackie Govan, Elaine Hargraves and Gaynell Jamison. We appreciate all that you did and continue to do on behalf of children across Arkansas. We hope you will stay in touch and continue to be such a great support! Thank you!

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