By Eva Phillips
Program Manager for Ready Schools
On Sept. 15-16, a small group of Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten teachers from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools attended the 64th Annual Conference of the N.C. Association for the Education of Young Children (NCaeyc ) at the Raleigh Convention Center.
For the past 5 years, grant funding was available to send more than 200 of our early childhood educators to this conference. Even though that funding was not an option this year, 11 teachers received scholarships from the association to attend, and others found alternate funding sources, including some PTA funds, to get them to Raleigh. Three thrifty teachers even found lodging with family members at a local retirement community to make the expenses more affordable.
Even our community's transition to kindergarten mascot, Ready Freddy, got to go to the capital city! The close to 1,000 attendees from across the state had the amazing opportunity to connect as early childhood educators committed to learning, exploring, growing and evolving as individuals and as a field of practice with a shared commitment to young children and families.
This year's conference entitled, Reflecting Quality: Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in Early Childhood Education was composed of a large variety of relevant and timely session topics such as:
- Creating an Environment of Connection and Cooperation,
- The Safe Place: Supporting Emotional/Social Development,
- Pre-K – 3rd Grade: Why It Matters,
- Quality Feedback: Engaging Teachers in Meaningful Conversations,
- Readiness, Alignment and Transition to Kindergarten: How NC’s Kindergarten Entry Assessment Supports Best Practice in Preschool
- We All Belong...Just What Is Inclusion Anyway?
- Reboot the Brain to Reach Higher Levels of Thinking
- Teaching Children HOW to think rather than WHAT TO think
- Everyone Has a Story: Building Literacy and Classroom Community
North Caroline Pre-K and Kindergarten demonstration classroom teachers presented a special track of sessions across the two days focused on meeting standards through playful learning in Centers. A few of the titles were It’s Bigger Than the Center…Bring on the DRAMA! Planning and Playing with Intentionality in your Dramatic Play Center, It’s Bigger Than the Center…Bugs, Rocks, Sharks and Shells-Fostering Young Minds with Science Inquiry, and It’s Bigger Than the Center... Integrating Mathematics Throughout the Day.
Special guests included keynote speaker Enrique Feldman of Global Learning Foundation showcasing his captivating Brain Games and Sam the Ant book series.
Also, featured speaker Michael Bonner shared his positive and innovative approaches to education for children struggling with the challenges of poverty. In addition to his presentation during the NCaeyc Leadership Dinner, Michael's featured conference sessions included Innovation=Motivation! Transforming School Culture and The Road to Bonnerville. Those of us from Winston-Salem felt a sense of pride in knowing that Michael comes from our own Winston-Salem State University!
Several WS/FCS Power of K Teacher Leaders offered their project displays to be a part of the conference "DAP Showcase" where participants could learn more about what it means to apply Developmentally Appropriate Practice in real and meaningful ways.
Scholarship recipients from WS/FCS included Brianca Alston • William Gormsen • Emily Guerin • Christine Harrold • Cassandra Hayes • Tonya Love • Patsy Murrill • Brian Prout • Sarah Robinson • Heather Stanley • Marian Wise
Below are statements from a few of our WS/FCS attendees reflecting on their conference experiences:
Laura Wilmoth, Kindergarten teacher at Caleb's Creek Elementary said that "being able to attend the NCaeyc conference was an amazing experience! It allowed me to connect with other educators from across the state and engage in relevant, thought-provoking conversations about teaching young children in ways that are developmentally appropriate!"
Veteran kindergarten teacher, Barb Kibler, from Whitaker Elementary said the conference experience was "a treasured time of renewing, reconnecting, rejuvenating, recommitting and growing as a teacher."
Deeann Kidd, Kindergarten teacher also at Caleb's Creek believed that the conference was "a great opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, learn some amazing tips that can be carried back to our classrooms and used tomorrow."
She chose sessions such as Yoga in the Classroom and Conscious Discipline to help her to learn new ways to support some of her more challenging children.
Brianca Alston, North Hills Elementary Kindergarten Teacher stated that "the conference was an awesome opportunity that not only allowed me to network with other teachers, but also receive professional development that will help me in the classroom. I love attending this conference!"
Heather Stanley, Pre-K Teacher at Konnoak, said, “I would say I got truly inspired by Mr. Bonner. I attended his session and was ready to get up and teach. Just the fresh reminder that we all have difficult students, no matter what age, don't give up on them, we may be their only true enlightening voice of the day. And to make leaning FUN!!!!! Dance, sing and for me to enjoy myself and the kids will too :)”
Cassie Hayes, PreK teacher at Forest Park said "I would like to say the experiences at the NCaeyc keep getting better and better! The information gained from the presenters I really love and will apply because it is research based; which means I use the most effective strategies to teach my students."
Here is Cassie Hayes, PreK teacher at Forest Park winning a door prize!
Ada Goren and Penny Westmoreland, Jefferson Elementary K teachers learning together:
Two past presidents of NCaeyc, Eva Phillips and Suzanne Hughes and current President, Consuellis Hawkins-Crudup along with Michael Bonner play Ellen DeGeneres' game "Never Have I Ever" during the Leadership Dinner:
Eva Phillips and Kristi Sue Devaul Martin bonding with MIchael Bonner: