The 92Y Vivian Gussin Paley Annual Award for Early Childhood Excellence

Each year, this award will be given to a dedicated classroom teacher who works with children from 2 to 5 years old in public, private and religious schools within the tri-state region.


We thank Jeffrey and Alice Keimweiss for their generous support of the 92Y Vivian Gussin Paley Award.


Vivian Gussin Paley

A visionary and pioneer in early childhood education, Vivian Gussin Paley examines children's stories and play, their logic and their thinking, searching for meaning in the social and moral landscapes of classroom life. A kindergarten teacher for 37 years, Mrs. Paley brings her storytelling/story acting and discussion techniques to children, teachers and parents throughout the world. In addition to her direct contributions to children and teachers, she is a MacArthur fellow and recipient of numerous awards, including; the 1987 Erikson Institute Award for Service to Children (1987); American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for Lifetime Achievement (1998); the John Dewey Society's Outstanding Achievement Award (2000); and she was named Outstanding Educator in the Language Arts by the National Council of Teachers of English (2004). Her book, The Girl With the Brown Crayon, received the Harvard University Press Virginia and Warren Stone Prize as the outstanding book about education and society (1997) and the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English.


92Y Vivian Gussin Paley Award

Since the 1930s, 92nd Street Y's programs for young children and families have been recognized for their depth, breadth and quality across a broad range of disciplines, and many have become national models.

In 2005, 92nd Street Y established
Wonderplay™ to enhance the work of our early childhood staff across program disciplines and to broaden our outreach in the larger early childhood community. Today, 5,000 children from birth to 5 years of age, and a staff of 300 teachers and enrichment specialists, participate in the Wonderplay programs. These programs awaken children's innate sense of wonder, promote self-discovery, build self-esteem and inspire a love of learning.

A major component of the Wonderplay initiative is our
annual conference, attended by more than 900 educators each year. Vivian Gussin Paley has played an inspirational role in the conference and continues to influence our core values and our vision for the future of early childhood education.

In recognition of her profound contributions, we have established the 92nd Street Y Vivian Gussin Paley Award for Early Childhood Excellence. It is our hope that this award will inspire teachers of young children for generations to come


Application Process

Applicants must be nominated by school directors, principals, colleagues, college or university faculty or mentors and submitted by Mar 20, 2012. You can either download and print a nomination form here [PDF] or fill out an online form.

Applications will be reviewed by the Selection Committee and a limited number of applicants will be chosen to move to the next level by Apr 1, 2011.

The final step in the process will include a written description by the applicant of his or her work, and may include an interview with a member of the Selection Committee, which will be scheduled between May 15 and Sep 30, 2012.

The award recipient will be notified by Oct 10. Vivian Gussin Paley will present the award at the Wonderplay Conference in Nov 2012.



This award will be given to a classroom teacher whose work demonstrates a commitment to the core values that are shared by Vivian Gussin Paley and the 92Y Wonderplay™ Initiative.



This award will be given to a classroom teacher who has been working with 2- to 5-year-old children for a minimum of five years; in preschools, nursery schools, day care centers or kindergartens. These may be public, private, charter or religious schools/programs within the the greater metropolitan area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.


Award Recipient will receive:

  • A $500 cash award

  • A tuition-free course in Early Childhood Education from the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City

  • A day of mentoring and observation with the 92Y Wonderplay program staff based on your specific programmatic interests

  • A complete and signed set of Vivian Gussin Paley’s books

  • Free attendance at the 92Y Wonderplay Conference each year


Wonderplay™ is in Print and DVD!

Written by Fretta Reitzes—director of 92Y's Lillian & Sol Goldman Family Center for Youth & Family—and Beth Teitelman, former director of 92Y's Parenting Center, Wonderplay and Wonderplay, Too! are the parent's guides to active child's play.

The 2009 and 2010 Wonderplay™ Early Childhood Conferences are available on DVD! Click here to check out this exclusive offer.