The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) has named UNLV’s Carl Esteban as the state’s Early Childhood Educator of the Year for pre-kindergarten. Esteban is a pre-kindergarten teacher at the UNLV/CSUN Preschool at the Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Education Center, a five-star NAEYC accredited preschool.
Esteban, affectionately known as “Mr. Carl” around the UNLV preschool, earned a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education at UNLV’s College of Education in 2019 and is currently working on a master’s degree in special education. He began working at the preschool in 2017 as a student worker, moving quickly into roles as a teacher’s assistant and substitute teacher. He has led his own inclusive early childhood education classroom with 3-5-year-old children since 2019.
The NDE’s Office of Early Learning and Development and UNLV President Keith Whitfield notified Esteban of the award during a surprise visit to the UNLV preschool Aug. 22. Esteban, surrounded by preschool students and staff, received a monetary award from the NDE along with a gift bag from Lakeshore Learning. He’ll also serve as an early childhood education ambassador in Nevada throughout the 2022-23 school year.
“I never thought I would be a pre-kindergarten head teacher,” Esteban said. “But not just that, a male pre-kindergarten of color. A male pre-kindergarten teacher of color with his eyes laser-focused on making a positive impact on all those who enter my classroom and, ultimately, within the field of early childhood education.”
Esteban was selected in part because of his relentless enthusiasm for creating a learning environment that is safe, welcoming, and enriched with cultural and developmentally appropriate material. An advocate for inclusion, Esteban prioritizes working in a welcoming environment and practices simple and effective methods to foster a positive learning experience for his students and their families.
“It’s the simple, yet meaningful moments that really stand out to you where you tell yourself this is why I do what I do,” said Esteban. “I want young children to know that they should never put limits on themselves.”
The Early Childhood Educator of the Year award was spearheaded by the NDE Office of Early Learning and Development. Now in its second year, the award honors early childhood teachers and recognizes their efforts in providing quality education to the state’s youngest learners as well as partnering with their families.
“Carl Esteban is a talented educator who brings incredible spirit into his classroom every day, and he epitomizes why UNLV’s preschool is among the best in the region,” said UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield. “Carl sees and respects each person’s individuality, celebrates their strengths, and helps them overcome challenges. He’s making a positive impression on our youngest learners that they’ll carry with them throughout their educational journey – a journey we hope brings them back to UNLV as college students one day.”
About the UNLV/CSUN Preschool
The UNLV/CSUN Preschool is a model-inclusive early childhood program that serves children (6 weeks to 5 years of age) of students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding campus community on a year-round schedule. The preschool recognizes the diverse needs, interests, and cultures in a setting where each child is valued and respected as a unique individual developing at his/her rate as well as the necessity of a cooperative team of professionals to help guide their development.
About the Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Education Center
A primary goal of the Lynn Bennett Early Childhood Educator Center is to support research conducted by UNLV faculty and their students. The preschool collaborates with faculty and students in related fields of study to promote knowledge and developmental issues and practices related to child “educare,” early learning, and the practical application of this knowledge.