Saydi Yerke, 2017 Winner of the Kathy Klatte Professional Development Award

Congratulations to the 2017 winner of the Kathy Klatte Professional Development Award, Saydi Yerke! Saydi is a toddler teacher at Day Early Learning State Government Center and demonstrates excellence in early childhood education. When asked what motivates her to go above and beyond as a teacher, she says, “Watching children grow and sharing that growth with families as their children reach milestones is very fulfilling” and that she “wants to make sure the children have a place to feel safe and loved.” Thank you, Saydi, for your commitment to young children and for demonstrating each of Early Learning Indiana’s core values of excellence, strong relationships, collaboration and respect.


Saydi demonstrates excellence in many ways, including continuously adapting her classroom environment to meet the needs of children in her room, individualizing her weekly lesson plan and completing more than the required number of child observations in her room.


Saydi was selected for nomination because of the excellent relationships she develops with children, families and colleagues. She herself noted that of the four core values, that relationships is the most important to her. According to her, “You can’t achieve excellence without meaningful relationships.” She seeks out training on how to best engage families. She also encourages families to get involved in the classroom and continuously communicates with her families, even before their child starts in her class. Saydi is also the Infant and Toddler Specialist at her center, and was specifically chosen for this role because of the strong relationships she has with staff, her students and their families.


Saydi is always willing to step into any classroom in the center and help and works with colleagues in areas they are struggling. She collaborates with colleagues on homework and lets new employees know she is available to help. She is constantly pushing to make changes to meet and exceed best practices. She wants our team, as a whole, to be successful.


Saydi treats others the way she wants to be treated and works hard. She shows up and gives 110% for the children, their families, and her colleagues every day.

Congratulations to Ms. Saydi Yerke and all who were nominated!

The 2017 nominees were:

  • Latasha Compton, IU Health West Day Early Learning
  • Alethia Minzlaff, Day Early Learning Lilly Family Center
  • Tracey Wickware, Day Early Learning at Fort Harrison
  • Heather Mitchell, Day Early Learning Center for Infants & Toddlers
  • Precious Reynolds, Day Early Learning at Phalen Leadership Academy
  • Hannah Smith, Day Early Learning at Eastern Star Church
  • Timeka Harvey, Day Early Learning Federal Building
  • Elizabeth Dobrow, IU Health Day Early Learning
  • Karen Brown, Day Early Learning at Park 100

About Kathy Klatte

Kathy Klatte was a well-loved staff member who passed away in 2009. Kathy was a part of our organization for 24 years as a teacher, center director, and a member of the senior management team. Throughout her tenure here her greatest joy was seeing teachers succeed in their work. She helped them, nurtured them, and encouraged them to be better and greater. The Kathy Klatte Award for Professional Development is awarded annually to an outstanding Day Early Learning teacher who exemplifies Kathy’s dedication to early childhood education. The Award also includes a $250 scholarship that allows early childhood education professionals to take advantage of professional development opportunities and will help them further their skills in the field.

About the Nomination & Selection process

Each year since 2009 the center directors are asked to nominate one teacher from his or her center whose performance has stood out during the past year.  Each teacher nominated is then observed by the Director of Curriculum and Instruction using a specialized tool measuring relationships, classroom and curriculum, and professionalism. The nomination forms and observation tools are then submitted to an anonymous panel of early childhood education professionals for review and a winner is selected.

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