Meet an ECE Pro from the Navajo Nation

Laura Delmar of Kayenta, Arizona, was awarded a scholarship to attend NAEYC’s Professional Leadership Institute (PLI) in San Francisco. AzAEYC is proud to share Laura’s story. 

My name is Laura Delmar. I currently work for the Kayenta Unified School District as a Preschool Itinerant Special Education teacher and serve as a team lead for the preschool. I have been a Head Start teacher aide, teacher, and supervisor as well as a Developmental Specialist for the Arizona Early Intervention Program with infants and toddlers.

I am of the ashi’hi (salt) clan born for the to’dich’i’nii (bitterwater) clan. I work and reside on the Navajo Nation. I grew up on the Navajo reservation in a very isolated area, a place called Navajo Mountain, east of Page, Arizona. I attended a preschool, referred to as the Navajo Head Start today. That is where I learned the English language, very foreign to me as I spoke more of my native language as a child.

Early education

Thereafter, my education stayed on the reservation, attending boarding schools, with time spent away from my parents. Time spent away from your parents is devastating as a child; I adapted as I matured. I was dropped off at the dorm on a Sunday, and my mother would say, “I’ll be back on Friday” and she kept her promise as she was there to pick me up on that day.

I graduated from Tuba City High School, that day my loved ones came to celebrate this great accomplishment, not only for me but for my parents. I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for them. I became a parent and my child opened my eyes about child development. I was amazed by his developmental growth, the nurturing he required 24/7. I enrolled at a nearby college. I received an A.A in Early Childhood Development. I continued my education and aimed for a B.S degree, I received a degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education (ECE).

My inspiration

I had the privilege of applying for a scholarship through Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 2015, and was accepted. I completed my coursework for a Master’s degree in Special Education in ECE on May 13, 2017. I don’t think I have ever been happier. It was very emotional – because if my mother didn’t believe in me, or broke promises, I wouldn’t have done it. My sweet mother, may she rest in peace.

Do I want to continue? Yes!

I now have four grown children. My youngest daughter just completed her third year at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I was a single parent most of their lives and by the grace of God, I am at peace to say, I’ve done my best.

What’s next…

I want to be able to guide parents, staff, administrators and special education related services providers that developmentally appropriate practice is an essential piece in ECE.

I sincerely believe in an inclusive program for developmental development. There’s simply something magic about preschools that allow children to explore as adults facilitate. I referred to young children as being “the engineers at work,” in which I the adult am available to be supportive and give guidance.

Being in the early childhood setting has been my life and passion. This is the career I have chosen and will maintain. Put me amid the young engineers and I will be at peace.

Funded by NAEYC’s Building a Lasting Legacy Campaign, NAEYC Conference Scholarships allow emerging leaders to experience the many opportunities for professional development and networking at NAEYC conferences. Know an #EarlyEdPro with a great story? Send us an email.