Exchange Fellowships

The VTAEYC Exchange Fellowship is for early childhood educators and allies who want to work at the intersection of early childhood and pressing societal issues related to our planet, our diversity, and our communities.

Fellows have the opportunity to build content, relationships, and engagement opportunities for the specific intersection topic they are exploring. The goal is to engage in the exchange of information, resources, and perspectives related to each topic, both from the lens of young children and families and the specific fields of study and work.

Fellows typically spend between 2 to 4 hours per week in this role. Fellows work in a topic team, one from the early childhood world and another who is passionate and active in other ways related to the topic area. For example, our first co-fellows for Our Planet x Young Children were an early childhood educator from the Shelburne Farms Early Education program and a UVM student and climate change activist.

The fellowship includes a financial stipend as well as support and mentorship from the Fellowship coordinator and current and past fellows.


VTAEYC is currently recruiting six new Fellows who will become the 2023 cohort. Fellows should plan to commit approximately 2-3 hours per week for nine months. Applications are due by Thursday, February 23, 2023.

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Current Fellows

Our Diversity

Cassandra Schmid

VTAEYC Exchange Fellow

Cassandra Schmid is an early childhood special educator in northeastern Vermont. She is passionate about the two pillars of early childhood advocacy – diversity, and inclusion. She hopes to be able to promote both through the VTAEYC Exchange.

Cassandra’s background is in environmental studies and urban agriculture until a few years ago when she switched directions and decided to pursue education. Since moving to the Burlington area, she has found joy in becoming a part of the community and supporting it.

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Our Planet

Naomi Alfini

VTAEYC Exchange Fellow 

Naomi is passionate about making more inclusive, child friendly spaces in our world. She has a Masters in International Development and spent the early part of her career abroad working as an advocate for children’s rights and participation with humanitarian organizations. In 2010 she discovered the Reggio Emilia approach to early education, and has since concentrated on working with young children and families. From 2018-2021 she was the director of The Children’s Room, a volunteer-led family resource center and play space in Waterbury. She is currently a teacher at Spring Hill Preschool in Waitsfield.

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Our Communities

Rebecca Blacklock

VTAEYC Exchange Fellow 

Becky Blacklock graduated from the University of Vermont with studies focused on Child Psychology and Development and Special Education.  She has been engaged in work in the Early Childhood community for over 15 years.  Her roles in Early Childhood Education have ranged from her many years as a classroom teacher to working as a consultant for programs navigating the NAEYC accreditation process.  Becky is very passionate about professional development opportunities for educators, striving for best practice and valuing children and families while advocating for their voices to be represented in our communities.

Becky is a native Vermonter, who currently lives in Underhill with her husband, two children and two dogs.  She is an avid reader, loves to bake, create art and spend time creating children’s materials in her woodshop.

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Jackie Reno

VTAEYC Exchange Fellow

Jackie Reno is an Early Childhood Educator, Family Strengthening Worker, and Program Manager at the Janet S. Munt Family Room Parent Child Center in Burlington.

She studied Bilingual Education before getting licensed through UVM’s early childhood education program. She holds an advanced degree from Champlain College. Jackie has been in varying roles; teacher, mentor, autism interventionist, home visitor, and is a Master Level Instructor for Northern Lights at CCV.

She is curious about diverse definitions and perceptions of community, the role joy and the arts play in them, and how children and families have thrived within unique community settings throughout human history.

Jackie loves growing plants for natural dyes and creating opportunities for people to indulge in the arts. She lives in Burlington with her husband and two children. She serves on the board of directors for Voices for Vermont’s Children.

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Past Fellows

Climate Change

Maggie Rubick

Licensed Early Childhood Educator, Instructor, Advocate, Child Development Specialist, and Pre-K mentor teacher

Northshire Day School

Climate Change

Emily Kaplita

Educator and Administrator
Audubon Vermont

Climate Change

Jed Norris

Early Childhood Program Coordinator

Shelburne Farms

Climate Change

Sarah Sciortino

Organize UVM

Scope of Early Learning & Development

Kaitlin Northey

Assistant Professor
University of Vermont, College of Education and Social Services

Scope of Early Learning & Development

Ian Drury

Director of Education, with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Speech and Language Pathology
Saxon Hill School, Inc.

More Than Hope

Stephanie Muñoz Wells

Early Childhood Educator, Mentor, Advocate
Northshire Day School

More Than Hope

Emma Redden

Preschool Teacher, School Builder, Teacher Educator

More Than Hope

Hannah Assefa

Elementary Educator