Illinois Subdivision of the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children


Jeanette A. McCollum Award for Service to the Field
2011 Awardee

Bernadette “Bernie” Laumann

Bernadette “Bernie” Laumann was named as the 2011 winner of the Jeanette A. McCollum (JAM) Award for Service to the Field by the Illinois Division of Early Childhood (IDEC).  The announcement took place on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at the SharingAVision early childhood conference held in Springfield, IL.   The Jeanette A. McCollum Award for Service to the Field is presented to an early childhood professional, family member, student, or community member who meets high-standards of professional practice and leadership set by Jeanette A. McCollum, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign.  The winner must have made significant contributions on a state, regional, or local level which have improved or will improve the lives of young children with special needs, their families, or those who work on their behalf.   Bernie was chosen by a committee of IDEC members including LuAnn Shields and Kristy Herrell, Prairie Children Preschool, IPSD # 204; Jennifer Loncola Walberg, Associate Professor, Depaul University and Wu-Ying Hsieh, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Bernie was nominated by a joint committee of her former colleagues at the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign, including Drs. Mary-alayne Hughes, Micki Ostrosky, Amy Santos and Susan Fowler.   A few of the many highlights from the nomination letters submitted by these four colleagues and three additional colleagues who also wrote letters of support are provided below.

According to Dr. Hughes, “Bernie has worked tirelessly on behalf of young children with disabilities and their families for over 30 years.  She has a wealth of experience across a broad range of Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) roles, including serving as an ECSE teacher and principal of one of the first inclusive preschool programs in the state of Illinois.  In her role as principal, she worked diligently with the classroom teachers and staff to make the inclusive early childhood program a model site in the state of Illinois. As indicated by Dr. Susan Maude, Iowa State University, “Dr. Laumann’s program was one of seven sites out of 50 recognized as a Finalist in the Search for Exemplary Practices.  She also gave generously of her time to educate program visitors about developing inclusive educational opportunities for children in their own sites”.

Additionally, Dr. Laumann has worked in a variety of capacities in the University of Illinois’ Department of Special Education and was included on the University’s “Teachers Ranked as Excellent” list a total of 17 semesters!  One of her former students, Laura Czopek, who is now a Developmental Therapist, said, “Bernie demonstrated her vast understanding of the field of early childhood and presented class material in a creatively organized and easy-to-understand fashion. She helped many college students find success in the college classroom, in turn, positively impacting the lives of countless young children”.  Bernie is continuing to train new teachers at Eastern Illinois University.  One of her new colleagues at Eastern, Dr. Rebecca Cook, stated the following: “Bernie’s career appears to be driven by priorities to have high expectations of teacher candidates, strong collaborative relationships within and across fields, a tireless consumption of research, in-depth knowledge of current issues, and being a strong proponent of families and their pivotal role in their children’s development”.

Each letter writer also commented on Bernie’s outstanding leadership abilities.  She is a “quiet” leader who simply gets things done without a lot of fanfare.  She has served IDEC in various roles, including President, and she capably served as the Chairperson of the Past President’s Council, a position created especially to keep her on the board and to develop new leaders in the organization.

Finally, please note the following comments written by Jeanette McCollum, for whom the award is named, which were shared at the time of the announcement.  She knew that Bernie had been chosen as the 2011 winner of the award named in her honor and although she could not be present to congratulate Bernie in person, she asked that these words be shared on her behalf.

“Bernie - I feel like I've known you most of my professional career, and so am wondering why I'm still older than you are! You came to the U of I in what was, I think, my second year of teaching. I remember your cohort with great fondness because you were all eager to learn and very supportive of one another.   In these respects you haven't changed very much! You have had a successful career as a teacher and as an administrator. Teacher education has always been your passion, whether as an administrator or more recently as a college teacher and now professor. You have always set your standards high, and have never wavered in your commitment to high quality early childhood education.  I am very proud of you, and proud to have been one of your mentors. And of course proud that you were selected for this award. 

Congratulations, to Bernie, on her selection as the 2011 Jeanette A. McCollum Service to the Field award winner!

Return to the McCollum Award page.

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