National award winner

Janell Moran, owner of Honeypie Nature Playschool in McFarland was one of 50 nationwide winners of the Terri Lynne Lokoff National Child Care Teacher Awards. She will use the prize money to build two Little Free Libraries in the community.

When the 50 winners of the Terri Lynne Lokoff National Child Care Teacher Awards were announced at a Tuesday, June 30, virtual ceremony, McFarland’s Janell Moran was the last name mentioned – but only because winners were announced alphabetically by the state in which they live.

Moran owns and operates Honeypie Nature Playschool.

Normally held in Pennsylvania, with all winners getting a paid flight and hotel for a weekend, the virtual program was led by Jamie Lokoff, brother to Terri Lynne Lokoff and executive director of the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation. A child care teacher herself, Lokoff was killed in a car accident in 1986.

“She knew that the early years of a child’s life were the most important for long-term success,” Jamie Lokoff said. “She knew that the love and the care and attention that they received before formal schooling would chart their whole life’s course.”

The annual awards are presented by Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Zyrtec.

Fifty teachers win each year, and each award recipient receives $500 for the teacher’s personal use and up to $500 to implement a project. This year, because no money was spent of air fare or hotels, each winner received an additional $500.

“I will be using the grant money to build and install two free little libraries,” Moran said. “One little library will be in our outdoor classroom. A second little library will be installed in the side yard of our home and will be available to children and families in our community. Both little libraries will hold children’s books, and child resource magazines, articles, books, etc., for families to access. We are expecting that the project will be completed by early to mid-August.”

Honeypie Nature Playschool, formerly known as Honeypie Family Child Care, is certified in nature explore outdoor classroom and eco-healthy certification.

Moran was raised in the village and graduated from McFarland High School in 2002 and Madison Area Technical College in 2004 with a degree a early childhood education.

Today, she and her husband, Steve, are raising their four children in McFarland.

Moran’s nomination for the award included submitting several documents in addition to information about her enhancement project. Among the documents was an essay describing her role in meeting the developmental needs of the children on a typical day, how she interacts with the children, the children in her classroom – developmentally, physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially, her classroom setting and how it meets the needs of the children, and a specific interaction with a child or the children in her classroom that she is particularly proud of and why.

“I am very passionate about our young children and guiding our community in helping to create a brighter future for our young children,” Moran said. “I am equally passionate about the field of early childhood education and strive for quality care and education for young children.”

She is a member of several local, state and national child care associations.Moran is responsible for the curriculum development, meeting children’s individual needs and the day-to-day operations of the center.“I believe children learn what they live,” she said. “Providing a rich, nurturing environment – which focuses on each child individually, and focusing on the group as a whole, centering the environment and curriculum around the children – comes around full circle teaching young children about nurturing and caring for one another. I believe in the notion of free play in a preschool classroom.”

She believes children learn through play.

“Enable children to learn freely in fun and interesting ways, a child becomes both a learner and a teacher,” Moran said. “I provide a mixed age group in my program, which encourages children to explore, learn, and nurture with one another. Children truly do learn from their play and interactions with one another.”

As exemplified by the name of the playschool, Moran is an advocate of learning in the outdoors.“Research has proven that nature brings peace in times of stress and depression,” she said. “Exposing our children to as much outdoor time as possible, becoming immersed in the outdoor environment, naturally decreases a child’s risk in becoming overstimulated, stressed, depressed, and reduces a child’s risk of becoming ill. Nature truly has a way to nurture.”

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