We have many in our Cleveland and Bradley County community who bear the latter title — each with good reason, and all who share a common cause of outreach.
One in our midst rarely finds herself in the limelight. Yet her work, and that of her staff’s, is critical to everyone who believes in the purity of a child and in helping that child to grow into adulthood.
She is Monica Stone, director of Signal Centers’ Cleveland Children’s Program.
Some might have seen the announcement recently published on the front page of our newspaper. Stone, who has served as Cleveland Children’s program director for 11 years, has been named recipient of the highly coveted Marguerite Hullander Award for Training and Professional Development. The honor was bestowed upon the Cleveland leader and caregiver of special-needs children at the annual banquet for the Week of the Young Child sponsored by the Chattanooga Area Association for the Education of Young Children.
This prestigious award is presented to a director in recognition of positive manner which encourages and inspires children and adults alike.
The Hullander Award is a significant honor, one that speaks highly not only for the recipient but for the organization which she leads and for the professional staff which she oversees, trains and develops.
As a child-support agency for children facing serious medical or developmental conditions, Signal Center is suported by United Way of Bradley County Inc. This alone tells the community impact, and the genuine need, for the organization. Couple such a fine service with a leader who lends remarkable vision and endearing values, and it is no wonder that Stone has earned this remarkable recognition.
Under her leadership, the Cleveland-based Signal Center has provided developmental screenings and early intervention services for Bradley, McMinn and Polk counties. She works collaboratively with parents, other child care providers, pediatricians, Head Start and the Tennessee Department of Education to assure that children who may have developmental delays get appropriate care and education.
Signal Centers Chief Executive Officer Donna McConnico, based in Chattanooga, understands well the jewel she has in the Cleveland operation under Stone’s capable leadership. It is under Stone’s direction that staff members are trained to meet not only the group needs of the Cleveland center’s children, but also their individualized needs. This is a pivotal point because no two children are alike. Their causes may be similar, but their personal needs are unique.
“(Monica) is constantly striving for more information and training to share with staff, but always keeps her eye on the prize of helping children reach their full potential,” McConnico told our newspaper.
Her good work isn’t limited to inside the Cleveland center. Stone also shares her vision in the community as mentor and leader by presenting at many forums and conferences the experiences and expertise she has developed through a variety of collaborations such as CAEYC, autism groups and specialists, Child Care Resource and Referral Centers, and many other groups whose principal mission is the support of families and children.
In spite of the treasured impact her gallant service brings to children and parents, Stone was humble in accepting the award.
“I had the privilege of learning from and working with Ms. Hullander, so it is a pleasure to be the recipient of this award,” she said.
Understanding the value in seeking out the wisdom of others is the mark of a true leader.
Monica Stone bears that mark. She exudes all the traits of being a great leader.
We congratulate her on this well-deserved honor.