UB's James L. Hoot Receives Highest Honor Awarded by Association of Early Childhood Educators

Release Date: April 30, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- James L. Hoot, Ph.D., director of the Early Childhood Research Center at the University at Buffalo, has received the 2004 Patty Smith Hill Award, the highest honor accorded its members by the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), one of the world's oldest professional educational organizations.

Hoot, who was recognized for outstanding lifetime achievement and commitment to the mission of the organization, received the award April 16 at the ACEI Annual International Conference and Exhibition Business Meeting in New Orleans. A researcher and scholar of international reputation in his field, he is professor of learning and instruction in the UB Graduate School of Education and coordinates the university's Graduate Program in Early Childhood Education.

The award is named for the former president of the International Kindergarten Union (ACEI's predecessor) and a dedicated U.S. educator, administrator, Columbia University professor and author. Hill, who wrote the "Happy Birthday" song, introduced progressive philosophy to kindergarten teaching, stressing the importance of the creativity and natural instincts of children and reforming the more structured programs of Friedrich Froebel, the German educationalist best known as the originator of the kindergarten system.

Jerry Odland, ACEI executive director, says Hoot "was chosen for this honor because of his national and international leadership in the education community, his many contributions to the field of early childhood education and his extensive leadership within the organization.

"He is most deserving of our highest honor," Odland says. "He touches the hearts and minds of so many others as he travels worldwide, taking with him the gift of friendship and qualities of a great teacher."

Hoot has had extensive teaching experience through his work with the Virginia Teacher Corps and in public and private elementary schools and universities. Over the past decade he has made more than 350 presentations to professional organizations in the former Soviet Union, China, Estonia, Ethiopia, Israel, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Canada, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the U.S.

He has been a strong advocate for children for more than three decades and has been recognized on many occasions and by many entities for excellence in teaching, scholarly research and publications. His awards include the International Educational Leadership Award from the Hungarian Government and the Honor Professor Award from the University of North Texas.

Hoot's work in the fields of early childhood education, educational gerontology and computer science is widely published in books and journals. He has served on the editorial boards of several educational organizations and journals and chaired five AIEC committees, served as vice president and as the association's 56th president from 1997-1999.

Orland says, "Hoot's colleagues enthusiastically describe him as 'intelligent, motivated, energetic and hard working with a never-ending quest for excellence.' He is viewed as an 'idea person' who meets every challenge with an attitude of 'why not' instead of 'why.'"

In accepting the award, Hoot said, "ACEI has given me so much during my career. It has given me the opportunity to work with so many highly competent and committed colleagues and life-long friends who share a dream of creating a better world for the world's children. Knowing how I feel about this organization, it should be no surprise how honored I am to be selected to join previous Patty Smith Hill awardees who have been my heroes throughout my career."

Hoot graduated magna cum laude in psychology from St. Francis College in 1972, received a master's degree in education from Virginia State College in 1975 and his doctorate in early childhood education from the University of Illinois in 1978.

Founded in 1892, ACEI is the oldest professional organization in the world dedicated to the development of the whole child, from birth to adolescence. Its primary purpose is to promote the inherent rights, education, and well-being of children in the home, school, and community. ACEI publishes the award-winning publication Childhood Education, as well as the Journal of Research in Childhood Education. ACEI is also the lead organization responsible for the folio review process for accreditation of Teacher Education programs through the National Center for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

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