VAAEYC Admin/ March 23, 2021/ Events

Christy John attends Laurie Berkner's virtual pajama party session on Saturday, March 13.

Conference Circle Lead Christy John shares her post-conference reflections and takeways.


Your Conference Circle Members had been hard at work planning the 65th annual VAAEYC conference for more than a year.  We reflected at the end of the conference in March 2020, how fortunate we were to have had that time together just before it seemed that the world shut down for quarantine.  We thought our “social distancing experiment” would be for a matter of weeks, then months, and well, here we are, more than a year later.

We realized early on that we would not have the conference we originally planned but we also knew that there would, in fact, be a conference! We set out to figure out how and fast forward to the end of the live conference and I am thrilled at the outcome.

The hard work contributed by each of our circle members was obvious in the quality of the sessions, the assistance that was provided for each presenter, the dancing and games at the happy hour sessions, and the informative conversations held at the coffee and chats as well as the membership booth and networking forums.

Due to the online platform, we were able to feature games for attendees, opportunities for individual conversations with vendors, and personal tours of the children’s artwork complete with explanations of the process the children experienced in creating their work.

Most importantly, our attendees were present, able to interact with presenters, and share ideas with each other!  Attendees have shared their excitement with us as they explored the vendor hall and participated in a variety of self-selected sessions.  The technology was a challenge at times and everyone was patient and flexible as our phenomenal VAAEYC Administrative Team overcame each one like the professionals they are!

My takeaways from the uplifting general sessions and informative closing sessions:

  • Jason and Kim Kotecki joined us live from Wisconsin and reminded us that “These ARE the good

    Jason & Kim Kotecki

    old days.” If we’re not careful, we’ll miss the moments that make these days great! It’s all about perspective – when you see a field of dandelions in your yard, is your first thought to call them weeds? Or do you see wishes?

  • Susan Friedman, of NAEYC, gave a wonderful update on the new Developmentally Appropriate Practice and included concrete examples of what that looks like in the classroom. Kris Meyers provided an overview on Virginia’s new Unified Qualified Measurement System.
  • Dave Davlin got our Friday off to a great start by sharing three essential ingredients to achieve a first-class life. Ask yourself, what do you think will matter to you when you’re 90?  More than likely, it will be the person you became, the difference you made, and the memories you created.
  • Susan Verde, the author of several children’s books, shared her strategies for Mindfulness and gave us breathing techniques that can be used during those stressful moments when we don’t have time for the self-care we deserve.
  • Laurie Berkner thrilled us not only with her music but she invited us to join in by singing, dancing,

    Laurie Berkner

    and of course, shaking our shakey egg as she performed “I Know a Chicken” and stomping around while she sang, “We Are the Dinosaurs!” She also shared the process she uses to create a setlist and how to connect with children through music.

  • Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist, Valerie Branch, led us in movement and dance that got us out of our chairs while teaching us new strategies to encourage child-led learning in a fun environment while connecting to curriculum.

If you registered for the conference, we hope you will continue to visit the venue and explore all the wonderful options and sessions that are still on demand through March 28th.  You will find the evaluations and certificate documenting your attendance in the lounge through April. Lastly, we look forward to “Exploring New Horizons” with YOU for the 66th annual VAAEYC Conference in Hampton from March 17th through March 19th!


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