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Smith named DECAL Scholar of the Year

  • By Rebecca Leftwich
  • |
  • Aug. 13, 2021 - 2:48 PM

Smith named DECAL Scholar of the Year

Photo courtesy DECAL

Students in her classroom at Parker Chase Preschool North in Peachtree City, where Quinecia Styles Smith serves as a lead teacher, pose for a congratulatory photo with the 2021-22 DECAL Scholar of the Year.

Quinecia Styles Smith of Newnan has been named the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s 2021-22 DECAL Technical College Scholar of the Year.

Smith is a student at West Georgia Technical College, on her way to becoming an inclusion therapist or curriculum specialist. She currently serves as a lead teacher at Parker Chase Preschool North in Peachtree City.

Each year, DECAL recognizes a scholar in the four-year college/university category and a scholar in the technical college category. Edelina Lane of Ellenwood, a student at Point University, was this year’s other recipient.

“We are excited to recognize Edelina and Quinecia, who represent thousands of Georgians who are balancing home, work and school to invest in their own education while continuing to serve children,” said DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs. “Similar to our Pre-K Teachers of the Year, this is a great opportunity for DECAL to recognize and reward early child care professionals who are committed to providing a high-quality early education experience here in Georgia.”

The 2021-22 award celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the DECAL Scholars program, which supports early care and educational professionals in Georgia as they gain more education and skills while earning financial incentives.

DECAL Scholars of the Year awards are presented to students who are actively pursuing a degree or credential in early childhood education while also working in a child care program.

Smith and Lane will each receive $1,500 and a $500 grant for a classroom makeover. Additionally, they will get a virtual classroom visit from Coy Bowles, lead guitarist for the Zac Brown Band and author of children’s books including “What’s Behind the Little Red Door?”

Bowles also is a member of the Georgia Foundation for Early Care + Learning Board of Directors.

“The Foundation is proud to support this important initiative by recognizing and rewarding our dedicated early childhood educators,” said Carrie Ashbee, Executive Director of the Georgia Foundation for Early Care + Learning, which co-sponsors the program. “When you are a teacher by day and scholar by night, it can be challenging to achieve the right balance.

“We hope these awards are a small way of recognizing the amazing commitment and dedication these early education professionals have to their students and families, both now and in the future,” Ashbee added.

DECAL is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. It administers the nationally recognized Georgia’s Pre-K Program; licenses child care centers and home-based child care; administers Georgia's Childcare and Parent Services Program and federal nutrition programs; and manages Quality Rated, Georgia’s community-powered child care rating system.

The department also houses the Head Start State Collaboration Office, distributes federal funding to enhance the quality and availability of child care, and works collaboratively with Georgia child care resource and referral agencies and organizations throughout the state to enhance early care and education. For more information, visit .