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Warrior of the North recognized for work at base childcare facility

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Michele Southall, 319th Air Base Wing Child Development Center lead program technician, was recently named a recipient of the 2017 Terri Lynne Lokoff/Children’s TYLENOL ® National Child Care Teacher Award here.

Southall was 1 of 50 early childhood teachers selected for the award. The recipients were selected from applicants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. military installations.

Additionally, Southall placed in the top 10 of the 50 award winners and will be eligible to win the Helene Marks Award and May be named the National Child Care Teacher of the Year when she travels to Philadelphia to be honored in May.

Southall is at a loss for words after learning she won the award.

“Right now, I am a little overwhelmed with receiving this award,” said Southall. “I still, at times, can’t believe I actually won. After working with children for 19 years, it is nice to be recognized for all the work I have done.”

Southall said she was selected as a winner for her essay on a potential project called Summer Garden. She wants to teach children to grow and track the progress of a garden, while writing about their experiences. At the end, she would like to invite parents to come and enjoy the harvest with their children.

Mara Lackie, 319th Force Support Squadron family child care coordinator, has nothing but praise for what Southall has accomplished.

“Michele is an amazing, seasoned CDC staff member who has served not only as primary caregiver and educator to hundreds of children throughout the years, but also as mentor and guide to numerous of new employees along the way,” said Lackie. “With her bachelor's degree nearly complete, and the wealth of knowledge and expertise she has, the sky is the limit on where I think she can go and what she may achieve. She is so very deserving of this award, and I hope she will be an inspiration for some of the other staff to apply for this recognition next year.”

Southall said she is thankful to everyone for their support and encouragement, but her real reason for working so hard is the children.

“It is so rewarding to see a child master a developmental skill you have been working with them on,” said Southall. “Giving children a safe, inviting place to learn and grow while their parents are at work provides me with great satisfaction.”