Nine Network honors 11 early education American Graduate Champions

Last Updated by Caity Younge on

American Graduate Day returns September 17 with public media stations across the country airing the live, multiplatform event. As a part of the St. Louis celebration, The Nine Network of Public Media will recognize 11 early education professionals as American Graduate Champions during a breakfast on September 10, 2016.

American Graduate Champions are individuals who are dedicated to keeping youth in school and on track to high school graduation and beyond.

In addition to the breakfast, the Champions will be recognized during Story Time in the Commons, a free, family reading program, at the Nine Network Public Media Commons.

Check out the honorees below and learn more about their efforts to impact the St. Louis early learning community. Make sure to tune in to American Graduate Day, September 17, starting at 1 p.m. on Nine PBS.

Dale Berenc

  • Berenc is a retired Pre-Kindergarten teacher, Ready Readers volunteer, and works with the Missouri History Museum’s Youth and Family Programs.

Patty Carleton

  • Carleton is the Director of Youth Services at the St. Louis Public Library. “Books open doors. They are windows and mirrors. Raising readers means raising kids who are ready for success in school and in life,” said Carleton.  

Wray Clay

  • Clay is the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at United Way of Greater St. Louis. “Educators have to meet our kids ‘where they are,’” said Clay. “Children are different. It is imperative that we work to create conditions that support ALL educators, children and youth as they successfully work through the educational pipeline – from cradle to career.”

Dr. John Constantino

  • Constantino is the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and Director of William Greenleaf Elliot Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Washington University. His specialty areas include child and adolescent psychiatry and autism.

Connie Cunningham

  • Cunningham is the Executive Director of Children’s Service Fund, which is an initiative to improve St. Louis County families’ lives and provides mental health and substance abuse services.

MacKenzie Grayson

  • Grayson is a Coordinator with Parents As Teachers and a Parent Educator at Normandy Early Childhood Center.

Peaches Lott

  • Lott is the Center Director of University City Children’s Center. "If we are passionate about real change, we must change how our youngest children are being taught," Lott said.

Sydney Meyer

  • Meyer is a retired Special Education Teacher, Ready Readers volunteer, and works with the Missouri History Museum’s Youth and Family Programs.

Susan W. Nall, Ph.D.

  • Nall is an author, lecturer, researcher, and consultant in St. Louis. She is a strong advocate for community engagement and embracing young students. “It is imperative that we move from mediocrity to excellence in a rapidly changing world. We, as a community and as individuals, have the ability to think and invest deeply in this mission,” Nall said.

Lynn Navin

  • Navin is an influential leader as the Director of the University Child Development Center and a Clinical Instructor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Kristen Sorth

  • Sorth is the Director of the St. Louis County Library and is dedicated to fostering an environment for active learning and success through the services provided by the library. “A love of reading opens up a world of opportunity,” Sorth said.

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