Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Centers
Berkeley Heights Public Schools
Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Annie Corley-Hand has served as principal of Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center (MKM ECC) since 2009, building on 20 years of experience as a teacher. In that time, she has championed data-based instruction practices and earned recognition as a leader in STEM in early childhood education, having integrated Makerspace resources, fundamental coding, robotics, and other curricular tools across content areas. These efforts have contributed to a cultural shift toward curiosity and creativity and an embrace of a growth mindset. By cultivating strong collaborative relationships between teachers and administrators, Corley-Hand has succeeded at weaving data into existing school practices, which has led to more successful interventions and reduced the number of remediation referrals, making the model a district exemplar. She has also been a staunch advocate for the benefits of full-day kindergarten, making multiple presentations at the state level on the social and academic benefits for students. Twelve years later, the Board of Education has approved full-day programming to be implemented in the upcoming school year. Looking for a creative way to address a variety of factors inhibiting student engagement, MKM ECC also recently adopted a “comfort” dog named Timber to support students struggling with disabilities, behavioral, or emotional issues. Corley-Hand is a former adjunct instructor at the College of Saint Elizabeth, where she earned an M.A. in Educational Leadership. She holds a B.A. in early Childhood Education from Kean University.