Wendy Spriggs loves spending her days helping young boys and girls grow. She teaches them to paint, practice mimicking sounds, and work on simple puzzles for motor skill development.
Her supervisors at Bruceville KinderCare Learning Center in Elk Grove have noticed her hard work and dedication, and presented her with the Early Childhood Educator Award from Knowledge Universe.
Spriggs lives in Acampo with her husband, Harry, and their three children: Savannah, 13, McKinzie, 12, and Garrett, 10. She is a graduate of Galt High School.
When Spriggs was young, she helped her mother, Peggy Ziemer, with Ziemer's childcare business.
"She just loves children," said Ziemer. "She's a natural."
Spriggs' director, Kim Cheer, asked Spriggs to join her on the morning of Oct. 2 in reading a new book to the class about a good news bird coming to school. It only took a few moments for Spriggs to realize the story was about her and an award.
"During the summer, my class was observed and filmed, but they told me it was just for the directors' benefit," said Spriggs. "It's an amazing feeling. As infant teachers, we don't get a lot of credit for what we do. But we're a stepping stone to kindergarten. That's where it all starts."
Spriggs was praised for her innate ability in relating to the needs of babies, resulting in a strong bond with the infants in her care, said Carey Kerns of Knowledge Universe.
Spriggs' class is made up of 6-week-old infants to 2-year-olds. She has taught for six years, and hopes to move up to a director position.
"I've always loved that age because they grow so much. They take their first steps. They start talking," she said.
Spriggs caught the childcare bug while growing up. In addition to her mother owning a daycare center, her grandmother was a teacher.
Knowledge Universe honors the best of its teachers through this annual award, which raises awareness for the early childhood education field nationwide, and the important contributions of these educators in the development of young children.
Spriggs is the 24th teacher to receive the Knowledge Universe Early Childhood Educator Award since the program began in 2008. She earned a prize of $10,000 and will travel to an early childcare conference in Georgia in November.