HOPE Toledo Adds New Staff Members to the Organization  

Special to The Truth

Earlier this month, John C. Jones, president
of HOPE Toledo, announced the appointments of Elisa Huss-Hage and
Nancy Okuley to new positions in the organization. Huss-Hage is
serving as director, Early Childhood Education, and Okuley as HOPE
Toledo’s Professional Development and Support specialist.

Elisa Huss-Hage joins the leadership team of HOPE Toledo after 25
years at Owens Community College as a faculty member in the Department
of Teacher Education and Human Services. Over the years, she has
dedicated significant time to the National Association for the
Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and its higher education work to
establish and maintain teacher preparation standards for the field of
early childhood education. She has served as a NAEYC accreditation
program Peer Reviewer since 2005, and as a member of its Higher
Education Commission from 2009-2015—serving as Chair from 2011-2015.
She was elected to serve on the NAEYC Governing Board (2016-2020),
where she was Chair of their Early Learning Systems Committee. In that
capacity, Huss-Hage was responsible for leading the revisions to the
profession’s foundational documents—the Developmentally Appropriate
Practice positioning statement, the Professional Standards and
Competencies for Early Childhood Educators, and the creation of the
Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education positioning statement.

As HOPE Toledo’s director, Early Childhood Education, Huss-Hage is
responsible for the operational efficiency of HOPE Toledo’s Pre-K
initiative and leads the ongoing design, development, and
implementation of the program with HOPE Pre-K Providers. “We are
grateful to have someone of Elisa’s experience and leadership in this
position,” stated Jones. “She will oversee and coordinate the work to
support our Pre-K Providers, ensuring instructional best practices,
curriculum fidelity and accountability for implementing the high
standards of quality required of a HOPE Pre-K Provider. She will also
make sure that our providers are supported with resources and
assistance where needed.”

“Our community is an amazing place to live and raise a family. Among
its valuable resources is a cadre of high-quality early learning
environments and dedicated early childhood educators for families of
young children to utilize. Equity in access to these essential early
learning experiences is among the priorities of HOPE Toledo and is one
that resonates with me,” said Huss-Hage. “In all that I have done in
my career as an educator, working to support and ensure access to
high-quality educational experiences for all of Toledo’s children is
by far the most important!”

Huss-Hage holds a MEd in Educational Administration and Supervision
from the University of Toledo, where she also earned her Bachelor of
Education in Special Education with an emphasis in Social Psychology
and Early Childhood Education.

Also assuming a key role with HOPE Toledo is Nancy Okuley. Okuley has
spent over 30 years in Toledo, Ohio, working with a variety of
programs to develop quality education for children. In 1992, she
started Sylvania Children’s Center —serving as both a director and
teacher. She went on to spend 10 years working as a home-based
childcare provider while her own children were young. In 2006, she
started St. Joseph Parish Preschool in Sylvania where she earned
awards for her work as an early childhood educator. She also spent 22
years as an adjunct faculty member at Owens Community College, Lourdes
University, and University of Toledo.

As HOPE Toledo’s Professional Development and Support specialist,
Okuley will be responsible for providing classroom support and
individualized coaching so that HOPE Pre-K teachers can enhance and
foster teaching quality—as measured by the Early Childhood Environment
Rating Scale (ECERS)—and improve overall educational experience. The
HOPE Toledo Pre-K Standard for Professional Development has a primary
focus on the quality and content of professional development to
include: topics which are high interest/high need and delivered in a
community-based approach; individualized coaching to meet the needs of
the teacher; and dedicated lesson planning to assure high-quality
instruction meets the needs of each child in the classroom. It will be
the responsibility of the Professional Development and Support
specialist to focus on these priority areas.

Okuley holds a MEd in Teaching and Curriculum from Lourdes University,
where she also earned her Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood
Education with an emphasis in Psychology. She and her son, Isaac, have
made several presentations to area organizations about his diagnosis
of autism and their experiences as a family.

“I am thrilled with this position with HOPE Toledo because I will be
able to work with individual preschools in the city to fine-tune their
already wonderful programs,” stated Okuley. “The mission of HOPE
Toledo is near and dear to my heart, and I am grateful to be a part of
this team.”