Bluefield, VA – Supporting young children has always been a passion for Leslie Floyd, chair of the Early Childhood Education department at Bluefield University.
“I’m not sure exactly where the inspiration or passion came from,” Floyd said. “I have just always been drawn to working with young children. I feel that young children are so vulnerable. They deserve to have someone in their corner who they know will provide and take care of them no matter what.”
Floyd’s time at Bluefield University began in 2019 as an assistant professor of Early Childhood Education. The program was being restructured then, and she was offered the position of department chair soon after her arrival. When she began serving in this role, Floyd set out to align the program to the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) standards. She wanted to ensure students were learning current research and data.
“So much has changed recently in the field of ECE [Early Childhood Education], so this also included rewriting each course and updating textbooks,” said Floyd. “With the support, guidance, and trust of Mrs. Cathy Payne, Dr. Thomas Brewster, Professor Brandy Smith, Dr. Pat Neeley, Dr. Marshall Flowers, and Dr. Bonny Dillon, I believe a pretty spectacular program was born.”
The most rewarding part of Floyd’s job, she says, “is witnessing (her) students become amazing early childhood educators” and knowing she helped them discover and develop their passion to enhance the lives of children.
Floyd’s own pursuit of this passion has brought her to several schools and positions. Originally from Buena Vista, VA, she completed her undergraduate education at Radford University before earning a master’s degree from Arizona State University. She is currently working toward a doctoral degree. She has served as a Head Start teacher, a Monitoring and Compliance Coordinator for Early Head Start Childcare Partnerships, an Infant and Toddler Mental Health Consultant, and a Virginia Infant and Toddler Specialist.
“As an Infant and Toddler Specialist, my focus was on ensuring healthy development and quality interactions with young children,” said Floyd. “I would provide in-classroom, onsite teaching assistance to early childhood educators who cared for infants and toddlers. I would also present professional development opportunities that were based on topics that would further support the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of children ages birth through three years.”
Additionally, she represents Head Start and Early Head Start on the Total Action for Progress Board of Directors in Roanoke, VA. Head Start is a federal program that assists children aged five and below from low-income families with school readiness. Through this position, Floyd volunteers at Head Start centers, interacts with the children, and develops valued relationships with the students and teachers, some of which have enrolled in her program at Bluefield University.
Floyd also serves as the President of her local Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children (VAAEYC). She represented Bluefield University at VAAEYC’s annual conference in Hampton, VA by presenting “Evidence-Based Effective and Respectful Redirection with Infant and Toddlers” and “Promoting Social-Emotional Development Through Creative, Child-Directed Arts” on March 19.
“In just a few years, Leslie has aligned the early childhood program to National standards, forged partnerships with the Virginia Department of Education, Virginia Community College System, and Head Start, and built lifelong relationships with her students to put our ECE program on the map,” said Dr. Thomas Brewster, Dean of School of Education and Social Sciences. “As a practitioner, she maintains a servant’s heart, often volunteering to work with children in local preschools in language development and play therapy.”
Under Floyd’s leadership, Bluefield University’s ECE program has recently been ranked as one of the best online Early Childhood Education programs in the U.S. by UniversityHQ.
“It is a pleasure to work with Professor Floyd at BU, and in communities across southwestern Virginia,” said Brandy Smith, BU Assistant Professor of Education and Counseling. “I always enjoy going into early childhood settings with her. Leslie’s positive energy is contagious. Students and staff instantly gravitate toward her.”
In addition to young children, Floyd is passionate about her family, who she calls her “greatest achievement.” She has two daughters, Ella Caroline and Charlie Grace, and loves spending time with her dogs, Henry Beau and Alice.
Floyd is amazed by early childhood growth and development and is committed to caring for young children.
“I love having the opportunity to teach others how to ensure that all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, have the opportunity for a socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively healthy life,” Floyd shared.