Center for Young Children teacher honored for outstanding care
By Tia Broz
April 06, 2023
When Karen Crawford was asked to work in the IUPUI Center for Young Children’s newly opened infant-toddler room seven years ago, she did not hesitate to answer.
“I said no; I don’t do babies,” Crawford recalled with a laugh.
But that was not the end of that.
“The director talked me into it until he could find somebody else,” she said. “Then I fell in love with the babies, so I’m still here!”
Crawford’s career as an early childhood provider began in 1995. She joined the Center for Young Children in 2004 as an assistant teacher and is now the lead teacher in a toddler classroom she affectionately calls “Toddlerville.”
“I treat these babies just like they’re mine, and that’s what I tell the parents,” Crawford said.
Her commitment and care are well known to the center’s children, families and staff. Her exemplary work has even been recognized by the state.
In 2022, Crawford received an Outstanding Educator Award Certificate from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning.
Eligible teachers must be nominated to be considered for the award, which is given quarterly. Crawford was one of only three people across Marion, Hamilton and Hendricks counties to receive the certificate in the third quarter.
“She really deserves it,” said Emy Ralston, an IUPUI senior who works as an assistant in the toddler room. “Everything I know about early childhood care, I learned from Miss Karen. She loves what she does, she’s great with the kids, and she cares about the whole family.”
“She’s like everyone’s perfect grandmother,” said Kate Hayes, interim director of the Center for Young Children. “She is a very nurturing, caring, loving person. She takes time and creates a special environment in her room. She creates opportunities for the kids to learn in very creative ways and really develops a special bond with all the families.”
For Crawford, that bond comes naturally.
“This room is all about love, and the children even feed off it,” she said. “If a child is crying, the others go up to them with empathy. It just makes my heart so proud.”
Hayes said the Center for Young Children’s many dedicated teachers, like Crawford, make it special.
“We have a number of teachers who have been here 10, 15, even 20 years or longer,” she said. “There’s continuity and stability that make us unique.”
She also praises the resources and support provided by the university.
“We have a lot of resources that many other centers don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of — anything from human resources to IT support that really make us top notch,” Hayes said.
The IUPUI Center for Young Children, on Limestone Street between Michigan and New York streets, provides child care and early childhood education for infants to 5-year-olds.
The waitlist is open for the center’s multi-age (3- to 5-year-olds) and STEM (4- to 5-year-olds) programs only.
Tia Broz is a communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.