For many it’s an honor to be nominated for an award. For Beth Yokom, a supervisor for the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and School Readiness Preschool (SRP) programs, it was a double honor because she was nominated by her mentors.
In November, Yokom received the Ruth Hathaway Jewson Distinguished Service to Families Award from the Minnesota Council on Family Relations. The award recognizes people who excel in enhancing family life. Yokom was nominated by Marty Rossmann and Betty Cook. Rossmann was Yokom’s adviser at the University of Minnesota; Cook and Yokom have worked on many projects together.
“All of Beth’s work can be characterized as a deep commitment to families through parent education and early education,” the women wrote. “She puts families first in all decision making.”
Rossmann and Cook wrote about how Yokom builds relationships with staff and families. Yokom was also praised for using current research to guide content and planning. Also noted was Yokom’s leadership and service in her field at the state level.
A graduate of Anoka High School, Yokom attended Concordia College in Moorhead where she had a double major in communication and home economics. After graduating, Yokom worked in the private sector until the birth of her second child. She said she began to take ECFE classes and thought, “I love this.”
Prior to re-entering the workforce in ECFE, Yokom earned a graduate degree from the University of Minnesota in family education. Yokom was hired to work part-time in the Mounds View School District. Her responsibilities increased and Yokom spent 14 years working for the district’s ECFE and Family Literacy programs.
After a funding cut to the ECFE programs and a son in college, Yokom was interested in finding a position with more hours she could work. A position in the Anoka-Hennepin School District caught Yokom’s eye and she’s been with her home district since 2006.
Yokom likes the work she does because parent education can make such a big difference in a child and family’s life.
“No matter who you are, parenting is not an easy job,” Yokom said. “When you are a parent you are confronted with something you haven’t done before; everyone has questions and moments of struggling. Everyone can benefit from parent education. It’s great to meet other parents and hear what they are going through and learn from their ideas.”
Yokom had no idea she was nominated for the award and was stunned to learn she had won.
“I was shocked and humbled,” she said. “It’s very humbling to be nominated for an award. The two people who nominated me for the award are my mentors. To have them nominate me was such an honor.
“Marty and Betty are pioneers in parenting education in Minnesota. They are people I really look up to.”
Being nominated by her mentors makes Yokom thinks about “now what, what’s my next step?” One thing Yokom knows she will do is mentor others as she has been mentored.
“There is a point in your career in which you realize it’s our turn to turn around and offer a hand to the next generation, the next group of professionals,” Yokom said. “They have important work to do and it will be easier for them to do if they have the support of people in the field.”
Formerly housed at the Blaine Family Place, Yokom’s programs now share Sorteberg Early Childhood Center with Early Childhood Special Education. Yokom said the new location is very popular with parents.
“We have very full classes here,” Yokom said. “We have wait lists for some classes, but that’s a good problem to have. Moving to Sorteberg has been a good move.”