MISSION AND HISTORY
The Oklahoma Association for the Education of Young Children’s mission is to support all who care for, educate and work on behalf of young children.
Through our work we support professionals, families and children by sharing resources and advocacy information to meet the need for high quality early care and education.
OKAEYC is host to six chapters that provide programming at the local level for our members. Our state organization has an annual fall conference in OKC with hundreds in attendance. We publish online journals and newsletters, host webinars, regional conferences, as well as work with stakeholder partners to advocate for quality early care and education experiences for all children in the state of Oklahoma.
As an affiliate of both the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA), we keep our members informed of current issues in the early childhood field. Members participate in the legislation and advocacy, quality improvement initiatives, accreditation facilitation, reviewing and publishing evidenced-based practice material, building professional development opportunities, and growing professional recognition and membership.
Service on the OKAEYC Board is a chance to help drive the decisions of our highly-respected national and state associations. Holding an office on the state board is also an opportunity to work with other leaders in the state, guide OKAEYC strategic goals, and influence programs, training, and issues in the state. Board service is a chance to grow personally and professionally, to develop skills, gain unique experience, and make lasting connections with a team of other passionate and motivated professionals.
The votes have been tabulated. .
Congratulations to the new OKAEYC Board members! These new members will assume office January 1, 2024.
Early Childhood Education and Care has been a professional passion for over 20 years. I started as a teenage babysitter, then in the classroom as an assistant and over time I moved into the role of director. To me, our work is the most important work that anyone could do. I am now at OCCC and working with students in the CD/ECE field of study that are employed in licensed child care facilities. It’s a similar passion as I help professionals grow themselves to be intentional lead teachers and professional directors in the field. I know that my work with adult students impacts a classroom or center full of children. I am excited to be in the running for the OKAEYC President Elect and assist in propelling this organization forward over the next 3 years!
Greetings! I'm Marla Pankratz, with 31 years dedicated to early childhood education. My path spans roles as a teacher, principal, and college professor, advocating for quality early childhood experiences. The foundation for lifelong learning is set in those precious early years. Quality education isn't solely a gift to kids but to society. It's transformative, fostering potential, curiosity, and a love for learning. We must champion caregivers, teachers, and students as we invest in an equitable future. Let's build a brighter world for generations through early childhood education's power to shape minds and lives.
I am very passionate about helping youth develop the tools and life skills needed to be successful in life. I have worked for The Salvation Army (15 years) and Tulsa Public Schools (18 years) and I am now currently employed with The Common Good. I have worked with our local YMCA, food bank, enrichment partners, The Opportunity Project, bike club, global gardens, and chess club. While at The Salvation Army I sat on the Boys & Girls Club advisory board. My goal is to relationally provide resources, services and opportunities for the children and youth in our community so they may overcome the social, emotional, and economic challenges they may face.
I started volunteering in the Head Start program, and during this time I found the love for teaching children. I moved into the public school setting for 10 years and became a certified Teacher’s Aid. After moving to Norman, I started working in childcare and am currently in my 6th year - most of which has been with Infant and Toddlers. I am currently enrolled at OCCC and will graduate in the Spring with an associate degree. My dream is to one day own my own childcare center and have indoor and outdoor classrooms. My goal when working with others is to help us to become the best we can be and share our knowledge with each other.
Dr. Mansur Choudry
Executive Board Members
Upon resignation of the 2023 President, Tammy Lawson, effective August 18, 2023, Jana Cornelius was nominated by the OKAEYC Board to serve as President for the remaining months of 2023, in addition to expected service in 2024. The motion was seconded, the nomination was accepted, and motion carried.
Jana has more than 35 years of experience in the early childhood field, working in public school, NAEYC accredited early childhood organizations, and state agencies. She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, B.S. in Elementary Special Education with a concentration on Mild and Moderate Disabilities and Speech Impairments, and an M.Ed. in Education Administration.
I hold a Ph.D. in Special Education from Oklahoma State University. A degree in Mechanical Engineering, an MBA, and Masters in Special Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and am a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst). I am a member of NAEYC, DISES, Ex-Vice President Early Childhood Association of Oklahoma, Council of Exceptional Children, Autism Society of America, Southern Early Childhood Association, and Association of Professional Behavior Analysts. I am also the Trainer for the First Start and the Master Consultant/Educator with the Council of Early Childhood and Professional Development for children and adults with special needs and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Vice President - Membership
I have worked in Early Childhood for over 20 years. My experience in early childhood has come from lab schools in the OKC metro. I am currently with Rainbow Fleet Child Care Resource and Referral as an Infant Toddler Consultant. I have the privilege of working with many teachers experienced and new to the field, as well as creating and facilitating trainings. Although my degrees are in Substance Abuse Counselling and Family Studies/Gerontology I am driven to advocate for children. I have 2 children (7, and 10 years old). They go to a Nature School/Agile Learning Center (Rivers and Roads) which supports research and my belief that early childhood education doesn’t just stop at preschool. I enjoy doing yoga, reading, and camping adventures with my family and friends.
Other Board Members:
Awards & Scholarships Chair: Lindsay Insomya
Conference Co-chairs: Carina Amrine & Paloma Cisneros
NAEYC Accreditation Advisory Chair: Kristy Larsen
Public Policy Chair: Dr. Stephanie Hinton
Public Relations Chair: Dr. Jana LaHood
SECA Representative: Sarah Albahadily
Secretary: Kami McManus
Treasurer: Misty Glynn
Business Manager (Ex officio board member): Dr. Susan Tabor