Early Childhood Champions Program

The NRV is home to extraordinary teachers, human service providers, healthcare providers, and advocates who work tirelessly to meet the needs of our young children and their families. These professionals put their passion and expertise to work in ways that support our entire region. First Steps recognizes these amazing individuals and teams annually through the Early Childhood Champion Awards. We select five award recipients overall, including three honorees, one runner-up, and one early childhood champion of the year. Each receives a cash prize made possible by the Community Foundation.

2021 Champion of the Year

Leslie Blevins Graham, the lead preschool teacher at Imagination Station in Pearisburg, is the 2021 Early Childhood Champion of the Year. She was nominated by both parents and coworkers who describe her as “amazing, compassionate, and hard working.” Click on the image to the right to see a short video about Leslie.