Friday, March 15, 2024


8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Opening and General Session
Conference Welcome, Announcements and Wolf Trap Warm Up

Morning General Session: Bringing the Arts to Your Classroom: Engaging Children Using Musical Call and Response Strategies

Presenter: Kofi Dennis, Wolf Trap
“Call and response” experiences are found in many traditions. In West African cultures, call and response is commonly used as a way of participation in public gatherings, as well as for vocal and instrumental musical expression. Join Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist Kofi Dennis to explore how call and response experiences enhance literacy, language and math learning, and foster memory, concentration, and listening skills.


9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Exhibit Hall Open
Pre-purchased box lunch pick up from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.


9:45 – 11:15 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops

Big Concepts with Our Littlest Learners: Moving from Concrete to Pictorial to Abstract
Presenter: Kateri Thunder
Big ideas and complex concepts in math and literacy are accessible to our youngest learners. To make sense of big concepts, we begin with familiar, concrete objects, next translate these into images, and then connect these with language. Throughout we engage in playful learning that is empowering, meaningful, and joyful. Come explore manipulatives that bring to life big math and literacy concepts. We'll experience ways to move from concrete to pictorial to abstract with big ideas, including storytelling and writing, number sense, measurement, shapes, vocabulary, letter knowledge, and number sense.

Diversity, Equity, and Positive Identity in Your Classroom!
Presenter: Talitha Kirby
During this training participants will learn more on creating a culturally sensitive classroom environment that promotes equity, inclusion, and positive self-identities within children.  Information on developmentally appropriate practices, planning and implementation for diverse activities, and interactions will be shared.

From Day One: How The Basics Will Support Equity in Your Early Childhood Program!
Presenter: Mary Jo Grieve
The Basics is a strategy for whole communities to support vibrant learning and brain development for young children. In this presentation, we will review the five Basics Principles (maximize love, manage stress; count, group, and compare; talk, sing, and point; explore through movement and play; read and discuss stories) and how they connect to the Virginia’s Early Learning & Development Standards (ELDS), support families within programs at first contact, and can serve as primary and continued resources for community partners.

Increasing Children's Positive Approaches to Learning
Presenter: Gwen Robertson
This workshop looks at the value of educators using intelligent materials – objects that children can use in a multitude of different ways,  exploring different possibilities, to express their imagination to increase children’s approaches to learning. Approaches to Learning focuses on how young children learn in different ways and focuses on the development of positive attitudes towards learning.  Educators will increase their knowledge in developing a set of habits and skills in children's learning to include; curiosity, initiative, creativity, imagination, cognitive and behavioral self-regulation through the use of intelligent materials.

Mistakes are Great!
Presenter: Lisa Plotkin
Mistakes are an essential way humans learn about self and the world.  We NEED to make mistakes, and we need to practice being kinder to ourselves when we make them.  Let’s be mindful and use our own humanness to create a welcoming and supportive environment for children, ourselves, and each other in how we acknowledge, embrace, and accept mistakes.  We will build our muscles to offer ourselves and others grace in times of “oops”.  We will recognize how vital it is for children to take risks, make and learn from their own mistakes, and witness their adults appreciating the value of mistakes in their own lives: a validating and much-needed hug.

Providing Feedback on CLASS Observations
Presenter: Jaye Harvey
Providing feedback following CLASS observations can be stressful. How do we increase or reinforce a teacher’s understanding of effective interactions, promote ongoing reflection and self-evaluation, and motivate and support a teacher's implementation of evidence-based practices? In this session, PD providers and early childhood leaders learn and practice strategies for reflection, supportive feedback, and constructive feedback using examples and scenarios from CLASS.

Talking to Parents: Effective Parent-Teacher Conferences
Presenter: Amy Clay
Several resources and ideas will be shared to help teachers prepare for and execute an effective parent-teacher conference. Teachers will understand the do’s and don’ts of a parent-teacher conference and the importance of having those interactions with parents. Teachers will receive conference forms and a list of do’s and don’ts for conferencing. This presentation will be PowerPoint and group discussion. Teachers will receive ideas from a question-answer session as well.

What's the Difference? An Introduction to Conscious Discipline
Presenter: Mandy Lloyd
Conscious Discipline® is a longtime leader in the integration of classroom management with social-emotional learning, utilizing everyday events as the curriculum and addressing the adult's emotional intelligence as well as the children. Conscious Discipline empowers adults to consciously respond to daily conflict, transforming it into an opportunity to teach critical life skills to children. When it comes to discipline, if you ever thought, "There has GOT to be a better way?!"  then join this interactive session to learn how to create safe, connected environments where problems can be solved with Conscious Discipline.


Noon – 1:15 p.m. – Literacy Lunch & Learn General Session

Educators and Advocates as Everyday C.O.A.C.H.E.S.
Presenter: Kimberly Johnson, Simply Creative

Pick up your pre-ordered lunch, or grab something from the hotel outlets and join us in this interactive keynote session focusing on intentional strategies and messages that will encourage stronger academic interactions and human relationships. So often, teachers become bogged down with all of the paperwork that constitutes working with families and children. However, in today’s climate we have to make human relationships a priority too. The more we can connect and become aware of our own strengths and cultural barometer – the more we can truly impact lives. Dr. Kimberly Johnson will share her experiences and encourage you to take the time to get to know your families and your co-workers. This session will present common sense ways to increase creativity and resiliency among our learners. Participants will leave this invigorating session ready to increase positive behavior, self-efficacy, and improved communication. For some of our families YOU are their everyday COACHES!


1:15 – 2:15 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops

Changing Mindsets: The Truth about Unilateral Hearing Loss
Presenter: Valerie Abbott
A short time ago, traditional thinking and old theories led us to believe that strong speech and language development could be achieved with one typical-hearing ear. Today’s research tells us otherwise. In this presentation, Robin Bliven (Director of Outreach Services for VSDB) and Valerie James Abbott (parent-advocate and award-winning author) will describe how today’s research contradicts prior understanding of how unilateral hearing loss can impact language and literacy and change neurological pathways within the brain. Participants will learn how to identify common signs and how to talk with families about their observations or concerns.

Creating a Safe Place for Self-Regulation in the PreK Classroom
Presenter: Sheryl Anderson
Co-Presenter: Rebecca Shaw Sigler
Self-regulation is an essential skill for creating safe, effective learning environments. Learn how to create safety in the PreK classroom by unleashing the powers, skills and structures of Conscious Discipline. Explore the power of bringing self-awareness to students so they can practice and manage their own emotions in a safe way.  Learn the steps to self-regulation and how to create a place where children (and adults) can learn to change their inner state from upset to calm. Discover how to effectively use a Safe Place in your classroom, and coach children through the steps of self-regulation.

Let's go outside with DAP!
Presenter: Sarah Maynard
Exploring their outdoor environment gives students nearly unlimited educational experiences.  This session will be a hands-on, interactive discussion on how to grow your outdoor space, how to encourage and scaffold learning experiences that emerge in natural settings.  Teachers will learn how to share information about outdoor learning with families. This session will help create a workforce positioned to better address the concerns of parents looking for academic rather than developmentally appropriate learning approaches, by deepening the understanding of what DAP is, why it is essential, and where it can be found in an outdoor environment.

Outsmart the Wiggles
Presenter: Preston Blackburn
When kids wiggle, act distracted, and can’t control their bodies, it is hard for them to focus and learn. More often than not, however, it is movement, in the form of big body physical play, that helps kids sit still and attend. Through play and physical activity, kids learn self-regulation and self-control as well as how to control their bodies, so when it is time to sit in school, at their desk, in circle time, or transition smoothly, they can. And when we give kids the chance to build all kinds of strengths and skills through physical play, they build confidence in what they can do on the playground, in the classroom, and in life.

Picture This!  Visual Strategies that Support Social-Emotional Development
Presenter: Sara D Barnett
Co-Presenters: Samantha Hald, Marta Szuba
“Picture This!” highlights how educators can use visual strategies in a typical classroom to strengthen all children’s social-emotional skills, learning, independence, and success. It focuses on a large variety of visual strategies, their purpose, and how to develop them including: visual schedules, visual boundaries, visual routines, visual organizers, first/then boards, choice boards, visual rules, social/scripted stories, and visuals for transitions.  The session shows educators how to teach the use of visual strategies in a typical classroom. Lastly, educators will brainstorm what visuals they can implement in their classrooms.

Transforming Programs One Interaction at a Time
Presenter: Sara Diamond
Co-Presenters: Nicole Shinn
Every day educational leaders are tasked with driving quality and supporting children's development and learning. At Teachstone, we know that an intentional focus on high-quality interactions makes this attainable. This interactive presentation will consider how the role of leaders can inspire a supportive environment by gaining a better understanding of the integration of the CLASS tool within their current program. Additionally, Leaders will discover how an effective CLASS vision will  lead to  positive change across an organization.

Update on the Development of the New VQB5 Quality Profiles
Presenter: Kris Meyers
Beginning in the fall of 2024, all VQB5 participating sites will receive an annual VQB5 quality profile which will include information about performance on measurements (eg:quality rating results) and other topics of interest to families, policymakers, and the general public. This session will provide an update on the development of the new VQB5 quality profiles and website. Participants will have an opportunity to view sample mock profiles and provide feedback to the state.

Using Number Talks to Engage Young Children in Mathematical Thinking
Presenter: Ann Wallace
A Number Talk is a short, ongoing daily routine with a focus on mental math strategies that provides students with meaningful practice with computation. Students are given a math problem to think about, and without paper and pencil are asked to determine the solution. The teacher then facilitates a discussion of mental strategies. As the students share their thinking, the teacher records their responses using numbers and symbols. During this session I will conduct number talks with participants and share suggestions for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade number talks as well as videos of number talks being conducted in each of the grade levels K-2.


2:30 – 4:00 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops

Creating a Culture that Connects Us All: from Incorporating Skills of Empathy and Kindness
to Establishing Meaningful Rituals and Traditions that Build a Strong, Connected Community
Presenter: Jacky Howell
This session will share the experiences, ideas, and resources from the presenters in a learning community format. The focus will be on creating a strong sense of community in our diverse world. Looking at the skills of kindness and empathy as being the foundation, a variety of ideas for all ages will be presented through stories, discussion, and experiences with the participants. Using rituals and traditions and many more strategies, participants will leave with ideas they can use in their own programs.

Every Interaction Counts: Improving Language Environments Equitably in Early Childhood Education
Presenter: Jodi Whiteman
It is well established that educator-child interactions are an essential element for child care quality, with a large and growing body of research connecting early language environments to childhood outcomes. Presenters will share case studies and data on how programs incorporating an increased focus on early language have seen not only more equitable interaction in the classroom, but increased job satisfaction and confidence among early educators as well. Participants will have an opportunity to participate in hands-on learning using LENA's 14 Talking Tips.

Project Approach in the Early Childhood Classroom
Presenter: Diane Volcansek
Co-Presenters: Nickie Wright, Kirsten Buchanan, Shannon Lyle

Bring the Project Approach into your classroom to see your students make real-life connections with the world around them!  Children learn more through making concrete connections with topics of interest.  By utilizing the Project Approach in your curriculum, you can support students as they explore topics of interest and help them learn through hands-on activities while building their curiosity, confidence, and cooperation.  Isn;t it magical to see a young child explore a topic and see that "light bulb" turn on as they make new connections and form new knowledge?  Come join us as we showcase using the Project Approach in our classrooms.

Strategies for Increasing Access to Publicly-Funded ECCE across the Commonwealth
Presenter: Tiffanie Meehling
Virginia is serving more young children in publicly-funded early childhood settings than ever before. In this session, VDOE will dive into key priorities and strategies for increasing access to publicly-funded early childhood care and education programs, including the Virginia Preschool Initiative, Child Care Subsidy Program, Mixed Delivery Grant Program, and Head Start programs across the state. Speakers will also cover, how programs can work together to support full-day, full-year services for eligible children. They will also cover how these strategies not only support families but also early childhood providers and classroom educators.

Trauma Basics: Understanding the Impact of Trauma
Presenter: Jes Bookout
Co-Presenters: Reagan Costello-White, MSW
Participants will gain a working knowledge of trauma, its effects, and ways to recover from trauma. We will discuss how to apply this knowldege to your role as an early educator.

Typical Behaviors or Challenging Behaviors?
Presenter: Carla Helton
How do we know and what can we do about them? Definition of a challenging behavior - Challenging behavior” is defined as “any repeated pattern of behavior...that interferes with or is at risk of interfering with the child's optimal learning or engagement in pro-social interactions with peers and adults”  Please join me for a interactive and discussion filled session to talk about positive guidance and how to assist children with behavior guidance.


2:30 – 4:30 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops

Quality PreK Interactions Begin with Safety and Connection
Presenter: Jane Plum
Looking to improve your CLASS scores?  Wondering how to provide more meaningful interactions with children in your care?  Conscious Discipline Powers and Skills can help you create a felt sense of safety and authentic connections so that children are able and willing to learn. Join this interactive session to walk away with practical, effective strategies that will positively impact your daily interactions in the classroom.

Schoolyard Nature Play Habitats for Kids on Any Budget
Presenter: Carolyn Schuyler
Promote the health and happiness of early elementary age students by Involving them in a play-based learning project creating nature play spaces in the schoolyard!  Nature-infused play improves academic outcomes, promotes social and emotional learning, and builds strong learning communities.  Teachers will be given time to explore the application of core concepts to their own setting.  Hands on activities and material examples will be available.


4:15 – 5:15 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops

Daily Routines to Promote Language Development
Presenter: Gauri Shirali-Deo
If you are providing care for infants, toddlers of preschoolers, this session will offer you validation in the crucial role you play in fostering the development of language for those in your care. After examining the impact of starting early in an encouraging natural environment, we will consider easy strategies you can take home or to your organization, and use the next day!

Is Mixed Delivery in Your Future? Increasing Funding and Equity in Early Childhood Settings
Presenter: Abigail Vo
Co-Presenters: Rebecca Ullrich
Running an early childhood care and education business is hard work! Come learn about Virginia’s growing Mixed Delivery program, which pays providers at the true cost of quality for the hard work they do and increases equitable access for families! Mixed Delivery is a publicly funded program that pays for full-day, year-round care and education in private centers and family day homes. Mixed Delivery providers can count on stable funding that can be used to increase educator compensation and provide critical resources to sustain and even grow your business. Find out whether Mixed Delivery may be a good fit for you!

Loose Parts: Using Open Ended Materials to Promote Creativity, Learning and Problem Solving
Presenter: Tammy Foster
The session will begin with a discussion of the theory of loose parts and its benefits to student learning. We will see how using loose parts spark children to ask “what if” and enhances their ability to use their imagination. Then we will explore ways to embark on your loose parts journey which will include how to involve your students and families. To conclude, we will investigate how to incorporate loose parts into your curriculum by planning developmentally appropriate provocations that are hands-on, encourage creativity and create learning opportunities.

Play-Based Learning: Why it is Important to the Developing Brain?
Presenter: Page Ghaphery
Using photos, videos and our own movement, this presentation will help participant to understand how a child learns. Sharing stories from my experience of over 35 years in the classroom. Connecting my stories to brain research that supports the idea that Play-Based education is important for the development of children's brains and their ability to build their executive functions.

The Power of Family Engagement in Early Childhood
Presenter: Kathleen Gibson
Fostering meaningful relationships between families and schools has a positive impact on our children – both with and without disabilities. We will define early childhood, explore the family engagement definition and framework, and learn how families and professionals share the responsibility for the success of all children starting in the early years.

What does Family Engagement and Making Connections Mean?
Presenter: Samantha Hald
Co-Presenters: Marta Szuba, Sara D. Barnett
In this workshop, we will be discussing what family engagement means and how to make it work best for your classroom as well as for families. Family engagement is the perfect tool to help build meaningful, lasting connections between educators, families, and children. This will provide early childhood educators with the resources and strategies necessary to foster strong family engagement and create meaningful connections. Family engagement facilitates effective communication and collaboration among all stakeholders while providing resources and guidance to develop strong parent-teacher relationships. With a commitment to family engagement principles, parents and teachers can help ensure children are receiving the best possible education and support. Attendees will take home these tools and ideas to implement what is best within their classrooms and schools.

5:30 – 5:15 p.m. – Social Event: Night Out with the Stars

Join the Stars of Early Childhood Education for an evening of food, drinks, networking, and fun at three different restaurants in Downtown Roanoke! After a full day of attending conference sessions, relax at one restaurant or stop by all three to experience different food and drink. Attendees will receive a drink ticket at each restaurant and special gift commemorating the evening for visiting all three locations.

Participating restaurants include 202 Social House, Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen Brewery, and Well Hung Vineyard Restaurant. Each location hosted by VAAEYC Chapters and Ready Regions! ($20 per person.)

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