Nevada Department of EducationNevada Department of Education

    Two Nevada teachers named 2023 Nevada Early Educators of the Year

    September 01, 2023

    CARSON CITY, Nev. -The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) is pleased to recognize two early childhood educators as 2023 Nevada Early Educators of the Year. Rebecca Howell, a Pre-K teacher at Bernice Mathews Elementary School in the Washoe County School District and Bethany Johnson, Owner, Director, and Teacher at Bold and Bright Academy in Clark County are the recipients of this honor. NDE staff and the Early Educator of the Year committee members made surprise visits to recognize each and celebrate them as 2023 Nevada Early Educators of the Year.

    "It's an honor to celebrate Rebecca Howell and Bethany Johnson as the Early Educator of the Year award recipients. These educators are instrumental in shaping the minds of our young learners," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert. "I wholeheartedly thank them both for their dedication to our youngest learners and helping set an educational foundation that will have an impact for years to follow."

    The Nevada Early Childhood Educator of the Year award is spearheaded by the NDE Office of Early Learning and Development to recognize, elevate, and celebrate the important work done by early childhood educators in the State. 

    • Rebecca Howell is a Washoe County School District Pre-K Teacher at Bernice Mathews Elementary School in Reno, Nevada. Ms. Howell is known for going the extra mile for her students, school team, and families. This year her Pre-K classroom earned a 5-star rating from the Silver State Stars Quality Rating and Improvement System. She takes part in the Parent Teacher Home Visits program to build positive relationships and better provide resources to her students and their families. Ms. Howell is also part of a team that helps teachers with assessments and is very involved with social and emotional learning work at her school. Ms. Howell's colleagues say she has a heart of gold and everyone who meets her loves her.

    "I love being an early childhood educator because I get to teach hearts and minds of students and help make a better tomorrow," said Ms. Howell. "I love getting to see the students grow through play and nurturing a love of school and learning."

    • Bethany Johnson is the founder, director, and teacher at The Bold and Bright Academy.  Ms. Johnson is a licensed in-home family care provider and runs her program as a half-day preschool. She is the first in-home provider to be recognized with this award. She is a former elementary teacher who says early childhood education is her calling. She is able to provide small class sizes of just six kids. The 24 students in her program learn through play and are given individualized instruction based on their level. Those she works with say she has an unwavering commitment to her field and she provides a positive learning environment.

    "As an early childhood educator, I cherish the daily opportunity to witness the wonder and growth in young minds, fostering a love for learning that will shape their futures," said Ms. Johnson. "The joy of guiding and supporting these little learners as they explore the world is truly the most fulfilling career I can imagine."

    This is the third year that NDE has recognized teachers for this honor. From the pool of applicants, five finalists were selected. The three other outstanding finalists for Nevada 2023 Early Childhood Educator of the Year were:

    • Amanda Fortuna, Pre-K Teacher at Bernice Mathews Elementary School, Washoe County School District
    • Denise Greig, Pre-K Teacher at Whitney Elementary School, Clark County School District
    • Sally Morgan, Toddler Teacher at Western Nevada College, Carson City

    Ms. Howell and Ms. Johnson will each receive a check for $500, a generous donation for school supplies from Lakeshore Learning, and will represent early childhood education in Nevada as ambassadors and thought leaders throughout the 2023-24 school year.

    Any Nevada educator who is employed as a full-time lead teacher serving in an early childhood classroom, defined as serving children between the ages of zero and five, is eligible to be recognized for this honor. Educators must have served in this capacity during the 2022-23 school year and plan to serve in a similar role during the 2023-24 school year.

    Nominate an exemplary early educator for the 2024 award here.



    About the Nevada Department of Education

    The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) leads and collaborates with Nevada's 17 school districts and the State Public Charter School Authority to advance educational equity Statewide. With offices in Carson City and Las Vegas, NDE oversees all pre-K-12 education in the State, working to achieve its mission to improve student achievement and educator effectiveness by ensuring opportunities, facilitating learning, and promoting excellence. Under the leadership of the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, NDE impacts the achievement of nearly half a million children and 30,000 educators. Learn more at and join us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


    Elizabeth Callahan
    Public Information Officer