Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date: February 26, 2010

For more information contact, Brenda J. Rayner, (901) 333-4247

Southwest's Mary Palmer Receives First Ever "Early Learning Pioneer Award," Created to Honor Her Life's Work with Children

Mary Palmer, director of Child Care Centers for Southwest Tennessee Community College, received the Stand for Children and United Way of Tennessee's Children's Champion, Early Learning Pioneer Award in Nashville on February 16. Palmer is the first ever recipient of the award, which now will be presented annually. It was created as a way of honoring her life's work with children, according to the Stand for Children office in Memphis, TN.

"I feel very honored to have received such a prestigious award and to have people around the state recognize the work I've done over the years," said Palmer. "I can't thank them enough. I'll keep standing for children wherever I go and I hope that I continue to do all the things I've done in the past as a champion for children."

Palmer, a doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis, has given more than 30 years service to the child care centers at Southwest, where she manages more than 60 staff members, including student workers and volunteer grandparents, and has 200 children enrolled in the programs on two campuses. She is active in the local Association for the Education of Young Children and Stand for Children, and she consistently lends her voice to serve as an advocate for children.

"Mary Jo Palmer has lived her life as a nurturer of children's souls. She has laid a foundation for them to thirst for knowledge, to seek truth, to challenge the norm and to become great individuals. She has blazed the educational reform trail on numerous occasions – having one of the first Pre-K programs that provided the data to support our current Voluntary Pre-K classrooms. Mary Jo has led the way for our community prioritizing early childhood education," said Kenya Bradshaw, director of Memphis Stand for Children.

Stand for Children is an innovative, grassroots child advocacy organization whose mission is to use the power of grassroots action to help all children get the excellent public education and strong support they need to thrive. The organizations believe that all children can learn and that communities must work to ensure that all children have access to high quality equation and effective teaching from birth (


Photo caption: Mary Palmer (center) graciously receives the Early Learning Pioneer, Children's Champion Award, during a ceremony in Nashville.