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11th Annual Leadership Summit Celebrates with Award Night

Children of America® Spotlights Heroic Teacher & Top Performers

MOUNT LAUREL, NJ, April, 23, 2024

Children of America® (COA), held a red-carpet Awards Gala at the 2024 Leadership Summit April 6th in New Jersey. The transformative event gathered company leaders to honor one of their own heroic teachers and recognize the exceptional individuals shaping the future of the childcare industry.

During a routine day at COA Marlton, NJ, DeAngeline Sebastian demonstrated extraordinary composure and expertise when a student experienced a sudden seizure. Without hesitation, she implemented life-saving measures, ensuring the child's safety until medical professionals arrived. Her quick response and unwavering dedication undoubtedly played a pivotal role in preventing a potentially tragic outcome.

"We are immensely proud to honor Ms. Sebastian for her remarkable bravery and selflessness," said COA CEO, Ted Hockenberry. "Her actions exemplify the values of compassion, leadership, and excellence that we strive to instill in our educators. Her quick thinking and decisive actions undoubtedly saved a precious life, and we are deeply grateful for her unwavering commitment to our students' well-being."

In addition to the Founders Recognition Award, DeAngeline Sebastian has been presented with a check for $10,000 as a token of appreciation for her exceptional service to the Children of America community. This gesture not only acknowledges her heroic act but also serves as a testament to the profound impact that educators can have beyond the classroom.

Ms. Sebastian humbly expressed her gratitude, stating, "I am deeply honored to receive this recognition and grateful for the opportunity to serve our students. The safety and well-being of every child is my utmost priority, and I am thankful for the support of my colleagues and the entire COA community."

"Recognition allows COA colleagues to recognize each other on the basis of living core values through daily behavior and examples of positive performance." says Ted Hockenberry CEO, "With locations and team members scattered throughout the USA, our yearly gala helps to unite and invigorate our entire team, setting the pace and driving success for the rest of the year"

The gala was the pinnacle of the summit which included thought-provoking keynotes, engaging workshops, and invaluable networking opportunities.

Recipients honored at the event were:

The Founders Award was presented to DeAngeline Sebastian, who has served as our Lead Pre-K A teacher for the last 3 years at our Marlton location. The Founders Award honors the Founder of the company Thad Pryor, a former world champion kick boxer, recipients have shown drive, and the spirit of a champion; hallmarks that have guided this company from inception.

The Shining Star Award presented to Jerry Jaskiewicz, Kelsey Smierciak, Kristina Hrapsky, Marjorie Lewis, and Stephanie Blevins  for those brightest STARS who shine for the benefit of others.

The COA Teacher of the Year Award for Those whose Inspiration inspires, the highest honor a teacher can receive in our company, was presented to Brittney Walters from COA East Brunswick, NJ.

The COA Campus Hero Award for outstanding performance, the ability to thrive and for valuing what's possible was presented to several of our top performing schools; Avon, IN., East Brunswick, NJ., Jackson Heights, NJ., North Aurora, IL., North Wales, PA., Manassas, VA., Orland Park, IL. and Wilmington, DE.

The Bentley Award COA’s Highest Honor for Exceptional Leadership & Performance in Educational Childcare, this award is the pinnacle of success for our School Managers, was awarded to Tiffany Clarke from our Lee's Hill, VA., location.

All recipients were presented with beautiful glass sculptures and received financial remuneration for their accomplishments. Congratulations to all of our nominees and award winners.

For more information about COA centers and programs, please visit

About Children of America

Children of America operates facilities throughout Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The company expansion plans include opening new facilities in Indiana and New Jersey in 2024 with further expansion plans in Florida, New Jersey and New York. Additionally, COA plans to open up new states with centers in progress in Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee over the next (1-3) years. COA offers the highest level of childcare for children ages six weeks to twelve years of age. The premier programs include infant care, toddler care, nationally renowned preschool and pre-kindergarten programs, before-and-after school care, and summer camp. An industry pioneer, Children of America is a subsidiary of World Wide Child Care Corp. Visit for more information or interact with COA on YouTubeInstagram and Facebook.