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NEPM announces Springfield teacher as honoree of 2021 Early Learning Champions Program

Arbely Mejia with student

Arbely Mejia recognized by PBS KIDS as an outstanding educator in the western New England early education community

Springfield, Mass., Nov. 3, 2021  –  New England Public Media is honored to announce that Arbely Mejia, from Springfield’s Daniel B Brunton School, has been named as a PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion. The awards, established in 2018, recognize and celebrate passionate educators who work with the nation’s youngest students, from infants to second graders. Through the Early Learning Champions program, PBS KIDS and local PBS stations surround educators with professional learning and networking opportunities. Mejia is one of 11 educators from across the nation who received the award this year.

“Arbely’s passion for teaching, her dedication to students and families, and her love of PBS KIDS resources made her a perfect candidate,” said Bess Kapetanis, NEPM’s education programs coordinator. “She has made the home-to-school connection an art, fostering healthy, happy students through the deep, authentic relationships she has formed with her students’ families.”

Mejia was selected for her outstanding work during NEPM's Summers of Fun & Learning and Ready to Learn Family & Community Learning workshops. She recently talked about her philosophy of teaching, and her feelings about being named a PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion. “The best thing about being a teacher is to see the world through my kids’ eyes. It is discovering, playing with them, teaching them every day that they have to be honest, they have to share, they have to respect others but love themselves," Mejia said. "PBS KIDS is amazing, not just for students, but also for teachers. It’s a great resource for me when I’m doing lesson plans, when I want to incorporate something new. With this award I can help my community. I can give back. It’s something not only for me, it’s for all those teachers out there.”

The PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions program, which has recognized 38 passionate educators of young children since its inception, including the 2021 honorees, includes various early learning educators, including Pre-K, Head Start and early elementary teachers; center care providers and directors; museum and community educators; and home care providers and owners. The program represents the diverse teaching community impacting young learners today. As they continue to move through the uncharted territory of pandemic-impacted learning, including the proliferation of hybrid teaching environments, PBS KIDS and local PBS stations will support skill-building within the classroom, in-person and at-home while encouraging these professionals to seek out their own personal and professional trajectories.

These Early Learning Champions will also connect with educator networks across the nation and further their commitments to their community’s families, education officials, and administrators through the utilization of PBS KIDS and local PBS stations tools and resources.

This year’s honorees were chosen for their passion and devotion to early education, strengthening the ecosystem in which children learn and innovating the teaching experience as we know it. Through the Early Learning Champions program, PBS KIDS aims to create a unique environment that includes professional learning and networking opportunities for educators while fostering relationships between them and their local PBS stations.

The full list of the 2021 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champions can be found here »


New England Public Media is a community-supported, independent non-profit organization based in Springfield, MA. Through a deep commitment to independent local journalism, trusted educational content, inspired cultural offerings, and civic engagement, NEPM endeavors to share new voices and inspire new conversations. It provides audiences with a broad array of local and national programs across all media—TV, radio, online, and mobile, including PBS and NPR programs as well as locally produced series, podcasts and specials. Its four digital TV channels, and two radio networks present news, jazz and classical music, documentaries, talk, drama, plus cultural and educational programming.

NEPM’s Community Engagement and Education Department collaborates with community organizations and school districts to provide PBS educational resources and opportunities that serve the needs of youth, families, and educators in our region.


PBS KIDS believes the world is full of possibilities, and so is every child. As the number one educational media brand for kids, PBS KIDS helps children ages 2-8 learn lessons that last a lifetime. Through television, digital media, and community-based programs, PBS KIDS wants children to see themselves uniquely reflected and celebrated in lovable, diverse characters who serve as positive role models, and to explore their feelings and discover new adventures along the way.

Families can watch PBS KIDS anytime on the free PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and the PBS KIDS Video app, available on mobile and connected-TV devices, no subscription required. PBS KIDS’ large collection of mobile apps and pbskids.org provide accessible content, including digital games and streaming video to spark kids’ curiosity. PBS KIDS and local stations across the country support the entire ecosystem in which children learn and grow – including their teachers, parents, and community – providing resources to support children’s learning, anytime and anywhere.

For more information, visit pressroom.pbs.org/PBS-Kids, or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Vanessa Cerillo
Senior Director, Marketing, Communications and Events
New England Public Media