2021 Early Childhood Educator of the Year Winner

2021 Early Childhood Educator of the Year Winner: Shawn D. Byrd

Childcare Center: STEAMulating Young Minds Imagination Academy, Bridgeport, Connecticut

HiMama is honored to announce that Shawn D. Byrd is the 2021 Early Childhood Educator of the Year

Early childhood educators are critical to a child’s development from birth to age five, yet they are one of the most underappreciated professions. In 2015, we set out to change this by creating the Early Childhood Educator of the Year award to shine a spotlight on and recognize those who are making the biggest positive impact in young children’s lives. Fast forward to 2021, HiMama received 189 nominations from over 8200 early childhood community members.

How does Mr. Byrd positively improve the lives of children?

A Bridgeport native and Social Entrepreneur, Mr. Shawn D. Byrd is the Founder and Executive Director of The STEAMulating Young Minds Imagination (SYMI) Academy. Mr. Byrd decided to champion the cause of community youth after witnessing years of violence and conflict and its direct effect on the lives of the community’s greatest hope and most vital resource; young people. As Executive Director of The SYMI Academy, Mr. Byrd oversees all aspects of the day-to-day operations and is responsible for cultivating long-term strategic partnerships and donor relationships to increase The SYMI Academy effectiveness serving unmet needs. The SYMI Academy is focused on expanding quality services, activities, and programs; building trust and lifetime relationships; and ensuring a positive impact in the community.


How does Mr. Byrd positively represent the early childcare profession?

As an early childhood educator, Mr. Byrd’s day is filled with challenges, rewards, and memorable moments with parents, teachers and scholar(s). With his patience and an open mind, he helps steer the next generation toward a life filled with great accomplishments. When a parent picks up their child, at The SYMI Academy, it is important to Mr. Byrd that staff share with them positive aspects about their scholar. Educators will Inform parents of what their scholar learned today, and the skills that were KEY!

What is Mr. Byrd’s community involvement?

Shawn decided to champion the cause of community youth after witnessing years of violence and conflict and its direct effect on the lives of the community’s greatest hope and most vital resource; young scholars and leaners. He’s a Community Advocate for Family & Youth that strongly understands the importance of his role in helping children recover from trauma.

Mr. Byrd’s achievements:

Mr. Byrd’s previous technology-sector executive management, sales, and marketing experience has enabled him to best lead the charge toward the successful execution of The SYMI Academy’s goals and objectives. Meanwhile, his extensive experience working directly with youth as a Mentor, Football and Baseball Coach, allows him to be a trusted guide toward success in our community! He is currently the Chairman of the Mayor’s Youth and Families Advisory Board.

Please join us in congratulating Shawn D. Byrd!

We encourage you to keep an eye out as he will be featured in the Preschool Podcast in the near future.

In the meantime, check out our short interview below with Shawn and what he had to say about educator burnout.

HiMama is deeply grateful for everything you do for our future leaders.

To view our past winner visit here!

Know an educator who deserves the title of “Early Childhood Educator of the Year”?

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Kiah Price

Kiah Price is a Social Media Specialist at HiMama. Prior to HiMama she was an Early Childhood Educator in a preschool classroom in Toronto. She is the Jill of all trades at HiMama from dipping her toes in Sales, Customer Success, Operations, and Marketing! She enjoys sweating through spin classes, hot yoga, and biking along the waterfront trails in Toronto. She loves traveling and trying new foods and wines across the globe- 29 countries and counting!

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