2016 Blackboard Award Honoree: Lilly Backer

Lilly Backer accepts her Blackboard Award; photo by Karen Haberberg

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2016 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Lilly Backer
Ages 0-3, Nursery School
Poppyseed Pre-Nursery

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as a teacher.

Every moment at Poppyseed is a joy. The children are so excited every day when they arrive. The parents and caregivers often say that as soon as the children awaken in the morning, the first word they say is “Poppyseed” or “Lilly.” The enthusiasm of the kids keeps me smiling and energized all day long. I love to see them sing, dance, create art, and engage in our reading time.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

I feel great pride in the fact that, with the leadership of Gail Ionescu, founder and owner of Poppyseed, we have created a place where children are able to be their best selves without any expectations to perform. They can play without pressure and express themselves freely. At the beginning of the year, some children are hesitant to get messy with paint. But in their own time, after seeing the group get excited about the art projects, they begin moving towards the art table with increased confidence and curiosity.

Lilly Backer; photo by Marcus Photography

Over the course of your career, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

This year there were several first-time mothers in my class who were feeling overwhelmed at times and looking for guidance. Through our interactions at Poppyseed they became comfortable and confident in their role as new parents. I was so moved by the sentiment of one mother who wrote in a card to me, at the end of the school year: “A mother always has a voice in her head, the voice of the woman who nurtured the mother as she learns to nurture the child. Yours will always be that voice for me.”

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?

I love children. From day one I get to know each child and caregiver on an individual basis. Each child and adult brings their own special ingredient into the class. By year’s end we become like a family where each member helps to make the whole complete. There is nothing like seeing the world through the eyes of a 2-year-old.