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Hays Head Start teacher earns high honors





Early Childhood Connections Head Start teacher Becky Greer has found her niche in early childhood education.

Greer was named Head Start teacher of the year for Kansas and Region VII by the Head Start Association.

"I truly have a passion to work with young children to see them develop," she said. "I have lots of people who help me get that done. We do what we do because we have that passion. We want to serve and give back to others."

A native of Oklahoma, she began her career in 1980 at Rainbows United, Wichita, a private preschool for children with disabilities.

She started her work with early childhood education and grades K-9 certification, but "went back and got certification for early childhood special ed."

"I've been doing it ever since," she said. "I love it. The kids are great. The families are great. I truly like the little ones."

Greer has been a Head Start teacher since the early 1990s, starting in a Head Start classroom at then Felten Middle School.

"That was a really fun experience with the older kids and seeing how they interact with the young children."

When the middle schools combined, the district needed her classroom, so she was moved to Lincoln Elementary School. This year at Lincoln she has a morning class and afternoon class of 15 students each.

She likes the neighborhood school feel at Lincoln.

"This year, a lot of children in the classroom are from the neighborhood," she said. "I hope they identify with Lincoln as being a very positive environment to come to school in. Some have older siblings. I just love it because it is a neat school."

Greer isn't the only ECC state and regional winner this year. Cindy Walters, an ECC parent, received the Beating the Odds Parent Award.

Greer and Walters now are competing at the national level.

Walters and her husband, Craig, have three children -- Christina, 21, Clayton, 6 and Crystal, 4, a student in Greer's class.

Walters, who was diagnosed with cancer, said she was shocked when she learned of the award but pleased to have been nominated.

The award celebrates the achievement of an individual who has overcome significant adversity in their role as parent and provider, according to a news release.

"She's had some adversities in her life," Greer said. "She's a great parent. I'm glad she won."

Walters said her cancer now is in remission, but it has brought her family closer.

"I believe all parents want what's best for their kids," Greer said. "Sometimes they may not be able to manage it. Cindy knows what she wants for her kids. She's a very strong advocate for her child. That's very important."