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Celebrating Educators

Celebrating Educators

EFS’ Teacher and Director of the Year Award

Each year, Educational First Steps awards one teacher and one director with a Teacher of the Year Award and Director of the Year Award. They are nominated from 600+ educators in our partnership program of more than 100 child development centers and 55 home-based providers located throughout North Texas.

As the nation celebrates National Reading Month in March, we want to recognize educators at the forefront of early childhood education for their passion and dedication to ensure young children receive the very best. The final candidates were selected for their commitment to EFS’ quality-building program, strengths in classroom performance, parent interactions, exceptional leadership display, team spirit, community involvement, professional development, and the overall demonstration of love and commitment to the children and families in their program.

EFS Teacher of the Year
EFS Director of the Year

‘Teacher of the Year’ | Gail Harris at Saintsville Baptist Academy

Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Gail Harris, a teacher at Saintsville Baptist Academy for over 18 years. Early Learning Specialist, Shanta Bell shares why she nominated Mrs. Harris.
“Ms. Gale’s interactions in the classroom are phenomenal.She is always positive, warm, and fuzzy, so it’s no surprise that all the parents and children in the center know and love her. She trains and mentors new staff, teaching them the ins and outs of the center and accreditation standards, and is even helping to lead staff at the new Sainstville Academy location. Ms. Harris is a true team player- always willing to help wherever needed and an active member in the community. She obtained her CDA through Educational First Steps and has maintained her credential while encouraging fellow teachers to pursue the CDA program as well.”

Director of the Year | Brenda Pace at Pace and Ross Learning Center

Congratulations to Brenda Pace as this year’s Director of the Year award by Educational First Steps. Mrs. Pace has been serving the South Dallas community since 1994 when she and her mother opened Pace & Ross LC. She joined the EFS partnership nearly ten years ago, has been a nationally accredited early learning center for six years, and is now a DISD pre-kindergarten site. She will tell you the relationship is more than a partnership, but that of friends and family. 

Director of the Year

From the morning devotions, team spirit, family environment, parent support, quality and intentionality of the learning environment and programs, and all-around culture, anyone who visits her school will quickly see why Mrs. Pace was selected to receive this award.

EFS Early Learning Specialist, Stephanie Higgins, shares that Mrs. Pace understands the complexities of leadership and supervision, leads by example and promotes teamwork- always keeping her staff involved. Her leadership does not begin or end as she enters and exits the doors of Pace and Ross Learning Center. She is a staunch advocate in the childcare field and has traveled to Austin to advocate for early childhood legislation. She helps her teachers understand the importance of their jobs to her and, more pointedly, to the children in their care, never asking them to do tasks they have not also seen her do.

Families are the backbone of Pace and Ross Learning Center. Generations of families who attended the center have returned as adults to enroll their children. Mrs. Pace shares that one of her proudest moments is attending the graduations of her former students and seeing them excel in life as part of the academic boost they received at such an early age.


Thank you to all the educators who go above and beyond to make a difference in the life of a child. It is through the passion, dedication, and commitment from educators like these ladies that help prepare children for success in school and beyond – and we just can’t thank you enough for ALL you do.