Dr. Valerie Jarvis McMillan, an early childhood professional with 25 years of experience, was honored by Guilford Child Development at the 2017 Early Childhood Champions Luncheon in October.

An associate professor in childhood development and family studies in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, McMillan was feted for her legacy of training other early childhood educators. She was honored at the luncheon by none other than Gov. Roy Cooper, who delivered the keynote address, and by A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr., who presented the award to her.

“The people in this room get it,” Cooper told a crowd of nearly 600 people, as reported by the Greensboro News and Record. “You know what it takes to start early in the life of children, many of whom are born into circumstances that are difficult.”

Guilford Child Development serves about 1,250 toddlers and infants in its federally funded Head Start and Early Head Start programs that help ready low-income children for school, and offers services through six programs to approximately 5,000 children and their families.

McMillan says every student should enter grade school with the most solid foundation they can possibly have. McMillan herself is much beloved by her own students for an engaging teaching style and a no-nonsense standard of classroom decorum.

“I looked out into the sea of people and saw numerous faces of students I have taught, who have now have made their own impact. I went off script and asked all current and former students of mine to stand up,” McMillan says. “All over the room, people started standing.”

“It was especially rewarding to receive an honor of this magnitude. It is because of all the people who work with children and families that make excellence in early childhood development possible. I share this award with them.”