Arkansas’s Outstanding Early Childhood Professional of the Year Puts the Special in Special Education

Arkansas’s Outstanding Early Childhood Professional of the Year Puts the Special in Special Education

It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher, much less a special education preschool teacher. That’s exactly the kind of person Julie Barber is, which is why her colleagues were not surprised when she was selected as Arkansas’s Outstanding Early Childhood Professional of the Year by the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE).


“Julie Barber embodies the purpose of the Arkansas Outstanding Early Childhood Professional of the Year award. She inspires and encourages her colleagues to flourish, and works every day to ensure the children in her program have the best resources available for optimum growth and development,” said Paige Cox, program and professional development administrator, DCCECE. “The award was created to honor individuals who provide high quality education and care to our state’s youngest children and their families.”


When asked why she thought someone would nominate her, Julie hoped it was for the impact she made in the life of one of her students and the passion she has for setting her students up for success and opportunities.


As the 2018 award recipient, Barber will serve as an Early Childhood Ambassador for the year. Her duties will include serving on DCCECE committees and representing early childhood educators in the media.


Growing up, Julie’s love for learning was shaped by the teachers who she says modeled “what a truly exceptional teacher is supposed to look like.” As a teacher, Julie knows the difference she makes and enjoys getting to see the growth in her students.


As a student, Julie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from the University of Arkansas-Monticello and her Masters of Education in Early Childhood Special Education from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. She is a certified trainer for Arkansas’s Professional Development Registry, a Strategies for Teaching Students with Autism based on Research (STAR) coach and a Certified Autism Specialist by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Educations Standards.


One minute with Julie, and you will see what her coworkers see, a peer who is “always playful and happy” even when headshots are being taken outside in the dead of summer. Everyone who supported Julie’s nomination for an award recognizing the top child care provider and educator in the state commented on her dedication to her students and helping her colleagues succeed.


“I do my very best to create a warm and nurturing environment for my [students],” Barber said. “I always set high expectations for every child regardless of their race, age, culture, ethnicity, educational level or socioeconomic status. All children can learn, they just do so at different paces. It’s our job to push them to be their very best.”


Outside of the classroom, Barber is active in several organizations, including: Arkansas Early Childhood Association, Southern Early Childhood Association, Autism Speaks, Special Olympics Young Athletes, Alpha Sigma Alpha and March of Dimes.


Click here to learn more about Arkansas Better Beginnings and DCCECE’s work to provide quality early learning and care to Arkansas children.