Gwinnett Tech Grad Receives National Award for Leadership in Early Education

November 15, 2012

Gwinnett Tech Grad Receives National Award for Leadership in Early Education
James Peas receives the Leader of Men and Children Award from National Association for the Education of Young Children interest group


James Peas, an early education graduate of Gwinnett Technical College and a preschool teacher at the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center on the GTC campus, has received the Leader of Men and Children Award from an interest group for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

This national award is given to a man who works directly with children and who has made significant contributions to increase the number of men working with children in educational settings. The award was presented by the MenTeach interest group of NAEYC at last week's NAEYC national convention in Atlanta.

Peas graduated from Gwinnett Tech in 2003 with an associate degree in early childhood education. He earned a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Mercer University with certification in birth through kindergarten and a Special Education endorsement. He is currently working on his master's degree.

In nominating Peas, Dr. Priscilla Smith, early childhood education program director at Gwinnett Tech, said, "James' leadership skills were evident even as a beginning student. He often accompanied faculty on recruitment visits to area high schools to encourage men to consider early childhood education as a career and was the silver winner of post-secondary SKILLS USA preschool teaching competition for the state of Georgia. He was recognized as the Georgia Association on Young Children Student of the Year in 2007. All of this was done while working fulltime and attending classes."

While at Gwinnet Tech, Peas also began working as an assistant teacher in a special education class, collaborative with Atlanta Public Schools and Easter Seals, where "his ability to work with at risk children and families was immediately apparent," said Smith.

In 2006, when GTC opened the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center, Peas was the first teacher hired. The Hudgens Early Education Center, a preschool and child development center open to the public, is Gwinnett Tech's lab school. In only its second year, the center was honored for best practices by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

"James was instrumental in those initial years as we helped teachers of young children also learn the skills to be mentors to college students in our early childhood education program," says Smith. During his time at the Hudgens Center, Peas has worked primarily with the Collaborative Inclusion Georgia PreK class (with Gwinnett County Public Schools) and as a support teacher with the Infant and Toddler Department. He currently is the lead teacher in a preschool classroom of energetic, curious three year olds.

Peas currently serves on the Early Childhood Education Advisory Board for Gwinnett Tech, where he works with fourteen other leaders in the early childhood community to shape the curriculum and experiences so that GTC graduates meet industry needs.

Gwinnett Tech offers an associate degree and diploma in early childhood education and certificates for Child Development Specialist. Early Childhood Care and Education Basics, Early Childhood Exceptionalities and Early Childhood Program Administration.

GTC offers more than 45 degree, diploma and certificate student options that students can finish in two years or less. For more information, visit or call 770-962-7580.

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November 15, 2012