Rebecca Deang '01

Rebecca Deang ‘01 has always felt inspired to work with young children and their families.

A young mother to a beautiful baby girl, Rebecca graduated from Lewis University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Shortly after, she began working as a first and second grade teacher at a private school. After having her second child, she began working for Easter Seals based out of Joliet. There, she worked with younger children with disabilities. Her work in this role inspired her to take some additional classes to receive a Special Education endorsement.

In 2004, Rebecca started working for the Will Country Health Department where she still works today as a Community Health Educator. “I am still educating a large group of people every day,” says Rebecca. “I am just educating in a different fashion.”

In this role, Rebecca works to ensure the well-being of children and families in the Will County area.   She is the Coordinator for the All Our Kids (AOK) Network that was launched statewide in 1999 to ensure greater results for young children in the community.

Rebecca, a kind and caring individual, has always loved helping others. As a parent herself, she can relate to families and vouch for how important positive mental health is in early childhood development.  In order for children to get the best start in life, families need strong communities where everyone is working together toward common goals for young children, according to the AOK Network.

“My job is to team up with professionals and the local community to ensure that children get the proper care they need early on,” says Rebecca. “I am responsible for educating others about early childhood development, and providing them with the appropriate resources to assist them throughout that process.”

Rebecca works with nearly 75 different agencies to connect and coordinate services that address children and family needs that exist today. “It is one big collaborative effort,” she adds.

For the last eight years, Rebecca has coordinated the AOK Early Childhood Network’s Early Childhood Mental Health Conference, which, for the last few years, has been held at Lewis University. This event was attended by more than 100 school psychologists, social workers, social-emotional specialists, behavioral therapists, DCFS licensing staff, child care providers and teachers in 2016.

“This conference provides professional development for anyone who serves the unique needs of children and families in our local community,” says Assistant Professor/Director of Early Childhood Education Dr. Rebecca Pruitt. “They engage with the latest research on mental health issues that impact the young children and families they serve.”

As this event grows each year, Dr. Pruitt adds that “Rebecca’s authentic desire to serve the early childhood professional community and her commitment to develop partnerships and create opportunities for greater and more meaningful collaboration among members” contributes to making it so successful. 

Enthusiastic about the work she does every day, Rebecca encourages others to be open to new ideas and opportunities. “I planned on teaching in the classroom after graduation,” Rebecca says. “My education and experiences at Lewis opened this new door for me, and I could not be happier.”

August 2016

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