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People, the Programs and the Profession: Reflections

By Melissa Larson Busby | January 23, 2019

When I began my term as President of the Governing Board of AzAEYC, I set a goal to focus on what I called the “three P’s.” The People–  the membership of our organization and our early childhood workforce. The Programs– both our NAEYC Accredited Early Learning Programs and NAEYC Accredited Institutes of Higher Education, and Power to the Profession– a major initiative at NAEYC and a personal passion for me.


AzAEYC Annual Meeting

As an organization, we have made significant changes and efforts in each of these three P’s over the last two years. NAEYC launched an entirely new membership and organizational structure in September 2017. Since that time, we have doubled our membership through our personalized and online membership efforts, and through partnerships with community organizations, non-profits, and school districts.

We built AZToolkit, our shared resources platform, as well as this very website. We accomplished these projects with a strong group of early ed professionals who are outmatched in terms of dedication, commitment, and historical knowledge of NAEYC affiliation in the state. Extra special thanks to Dawn Craft and Kathy Evans, now of Arizona PBS, Sandy Foreman, happily retired, and Lua Zawacki, whose top- notch organization skills we still miss.

What an honor it has been to get to know and to work with so many early ed professionals across our state over the past two years.


Melissa Martha Vickie

Our board members and chapters have increased efforts to reach out to NAEYC Accredited Early Learning Programs and honor them. This alignment of pathways to NAEYC Standards helps create a vision of excellence for students and faculty and also supports early childhood degree completion.

We’ve worked hard to engage members in events like WOYC and our Annual Meeting. We also presented a few new awards to some exemplary professionals, including Sandy Foreman, Dawn Craft, Shanna Kukla, Claire Schonaerts and Claudia Talambayan. Once again, we were able to award an exemplary student member, Martha Esmeralda Carrillo, with the Rhian Evans Allvin and Joshua J. Allen Scholarship.

This year we also launched a Higher Ed Accreditation Project with grant funding from the Arizona Department of Education to support the accreditation of 10 new higher education pathways statewide.


NAEYC’s Power to the Profession initiative has given us the opportunity to seek feedback from our workforce on how we can advance our profession but not lose sight of the importance of maintaining the diversity that makes our field rich and robust and also advocating for equity and compensation for our workforce.

I am thrilled that advancing a diverse profession and advocating for equity is also a priority for our new President, Eric Bucher. I am excited to work with him in his new leadership role and I am confident he will lead our Board with innovative strategies and fresh ideas to continue to advance the work of NAEYC in Arizona.

On a personal note…

Serving as president of AzAEYC’s board has has been one of the most enriching, challenging, and rewarding adventures of my life.  My experiences advocating for our workforce at public policy events here in Arizona and at the United States Capitol have been highlights, as have been the relationships I have built with so many early childhood educators and advocates across our state.

As I transition out of this role I can’t help but think about the lyrics from one of my favorite hymns, entitled “Have I Done Any Good?”

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed…
There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.

Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909, alt.

I hope that I have done some good in the Arizona early childhood world during my season as AzAEYC President. I hope I have done my part to help a profession in need. And I hope that in some small way I have encouraged others not to let opportunities for service pass by.

Heartfelt thanks to every single one of you who “go and do something” every day to raise the early childhood profession.

Melissa Larson Busby currently directs the NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Education program at Central Arizona College. She completed her term as president of the AzAEYC Governing Board in January, 2019.