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Announcing the 2020 Kate Davidson Tanner Award Recipient

Monday, March 30, 2020  
Posted by: Lara Richardson
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Kate Davidson Tanner was an early childhood educator who was committed to making a difference in the lives of children. Her family and friends have created an award to recognize her strong commitment to the children in our state.

MnAEYC and the family of Kate Davidson Tanner present an annual award to recognize an individual working in an early childhood program who demonstrates excellence in his or her profession.

We are so proud to announce the 2020 recipient - Ann Ossanna, an infant teacher at Hopkins Early Learning Center! Her nomination stated, "From our first conversation, I knew Ann was special. Ann models what it takes to have longevity in this field. She has presented at MnAEYC to share her ideas. She has attended multiple NAEYC conferences to continue to be inspired. Children, families and staff love her! She rides tricycles, creates 'tiny worlds' and can re-purpose almost anything into a 'loose part' to help children make sense of the world in their own way. We should all be so lucky to work with someone who understands the importance of the work we do while spreading joy throughout classrooms and the halls as she does it. Through her years of service, Ann has impacted the lives of thousands of children and families."

Ann graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Elementary Education but knew early on that she wanted to work with children before they entered elementary school. Ann has dedicated her career to HELC, where she has been for 33 years, working both with infants and preschoolers. Ann loves music, singing, storytelling and drawing. She says, "I love music and play the piano, guitar, and flute. My instruments stay at school, because even the tiniest babies love to hear music." She lives in Hopkins with her husband of 35 years, two adult daughters (both attended HELC, and her oldest worked there with Ann for six summers), their cockatiel, Cuddles, and their dog, Indiana.

Let's get to know Ann a little bit better!

What is your professional background?  

I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Elementary Education in 1986. I worked for three years helping write/test a Health Curriculum through the U of M for grades 4-6. Early Childhood Education wasn't really promoted at that time, so I took very few classes in it.

What brought you into this field?

After graduation, I decided I wanted to work with younger children. I had taught Sunday School to 3-year-olds and really liked the preschool age group.

Working with young children takes a special kind of person. What is it about this age group that inspires you?

I love how inquisitive young children are, and they get excited about learning new things. Their simple sense of humor and joy in life also inspires me.  

What feeds you professionally to continue in the field for so many years?

I have been very fortunate to have had directors who allow me to change age groups when I am losing motivation or need connection with other ages. I have gone between preschool and infants, and get enjoyment from each age group for different reasons. I worked with preschool for 3 years, infants for 17, preschool for 13, and now I am back in the infant room.

I love using my creativity to make the environment fun for the children. For preschool, I created "playscapes" (little environments in boxes), tagboard matching games, dramatic play items, and made up stories to help enhance their play. With the infant group, I create texture boards, box toys for crawling and dropping balls, and I play the guitar, flute, and piano for them.

Check out a Puppet Theatre Ann held on Facebook for the children of HELC earlier this week!


What does receiving this award mean to you?

This wouldn't have been possible without the support of my director, Jamie Bonczyk, and my coworkers, who always encourage my special projects and creativity. I feel very honored to be recognized by my field and grateful to receive an award for something that I still love doing after 33-1/2 years. I think Early Childhood is such an important field, in order to give young children the best opportunities to succeed and grow. All teachers need to know how much they can change the lives of young children.

Are there any special people who have served as mentors to you along your journey?

My very first co-teacher and mentor was Ingrid Miera, who started me off by accepting me as her partner and sharing her encyclopedia of knowledge about preschoolers...also my first directors, Kathy Dayton and Janelle Kuechle, who hired me and gave me the confidence to do my best. I have also been inspired by my preschool co-teacher, Renee Rachel, infant co-teachers, Althea Kilber and Maurine Burke (both deceased), and many other directors and teachers along the way.  

What advice might you give to those new to the profession or those who are looking for renewed motivation?

Find the things you do best, and build upon them and enhance them through classes and mentors, whether it be music, telling stories, creating activities, or teaching others.

Please join us in congratulating Ann on our Facebook page!

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