Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Professor of Education; Coordinator of Early Childhood Education
Although Pat Cantor’s first career was in editing and publishing, early childhood education was always in her blood.
“My mother was a kindergarten teacher for 25 years,” she says. “I always had that connection through her.” When Cantor had children of her own, she was inspired to make a career change, going back to school part time “for many, many years” to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in early childhood education.
Since joining Plymouth State’s faculty in 1990, Cantor has served as director of the Center for Young Children and Families and chair of the Department of Education. She is often involved in campus committees and task forces, taking on a variety of roles such as Faculty Speaker. “Getting involved is a great way to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise meet—not only faculty members, but staff from across the campus,” she says.
Her involvement also stems from a personal sense of duty. “I believe that if you belong to an organization, you should take responsibility for that organization,” she says. “We’re collectively responsible for the wellbeing of the whole University.”
That concept of collective responsibility also inspires Cantor’s activities outside of teaching: she serves on the board of the New Hampshire Children’s Alliance and is co-chair of the New Hampshire Child Care Advisory Council. “These organizations aren’t just about early childhood education, but about promoting early childhood development as a whole,” she says. “Initiatives against child poverty, working toward healthy families—it’s all connected. When families are better off, children are better off.”
She dreams of a time when “every child can have equal opportunities for good care, good education, good health,” she says. “There are a lot of inequities, even in a small state like New Hampshire. But any positive changes we can make in one area are integrated and connected to the big picture, and the reverberations will continue for many years.” She shares this vision and sense of connection with her students. “I want to have my students think not only as teachers, but also as citizens.”
Cantor, who also was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002, exemplifies the PSU ideals of excellence in teaching and devoted service. Both awards have been gratifying, she says, “although you don’t really do service for recognition.
“At the same time, it is important to value service the way Plymouth State does,” she says. “There are so many people here who are involved and engaged in service. I can put my efforts into early childhood issues because I know other people are doing good work in many other areas—that’s both comforting and inspiring.”
— Jennifer Philion