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Distinguished Achievement Award - 2017

Mildred Alice Gortney Dickerson came to Madison College in 1958 with her husband, Dr. Z. S. Dickerson, to start the nursery school in the newly developed Anthony Seeger Campus School. She earned a BA degree from Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College (now Eastern Kentucky University) and a MS degree from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to Madison, she had taught in high schools in Ohio and Kentucky and had been a faculty member at Florence State Teachers College (now the University of North Alabama) and the University of Kentucky. While teaching the children in the Madison College campus nursery school, originally located in the basement of Jackson Hall, Mildred also taught classes for those students who were observing and working with the preschool children. When Virginia added kindergartens to public schools, she was named coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Program for the preparation of teachers for newly mandated kindergartens. She later developed both the undergraduate program and a masters program in Early Childhood Education and served as program coordinator until three years before her retirement. She not only taught the students in her classes, she mentored faculty and graduate students, introducing them to leading figures in the field and supporting their growth as professionals. She achieved the rank of full professor at JMU.

Beyond the JMU campus and the thousands of children she taught, future teachers she prepared and experienced teachers she supported, she had significant impact on the field of early childhood education through her service in local, state and national organizations. She served as President of the Southern Association for Children Under Six and President of the Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education. She established and was President of the Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. She led the effort to establish what is now The Harrisonburg Rockingham Child Day Care Center. She received many honors for her leadership including the VAECE Award for Outstanding Service to Young Children and the Outstanding Woman of the Year by the JMU Women’s Caucus. She was listed in Who’s Who American Women with World Notables and had a number of professional publications. The Mildred Dickerson Award is given to an individual for outstanding service to young children in the Shenandoah Valley. She and her husband, Dick, established the Dickerson Endowment Scholarship Fund for student scholarships

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