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Ignite Purpose and Intention
July 23 – 26, 2024 Schedule

Tuesday, July 23
In-person preconference sessions at United Way of Greater Nashville
Wednesday, July 24
VidCon (virtual) sessions
Thursday, July 25
VidCon (virtual) sessions
Friday, July 26
In-person conference at Nashville State Community College’s White Bridge Campus

All conference sessions are free to the community. Sessions are aimed at ECE professionals but everyone is welcome. Lunch and parking will be provided on Tuesday and Friday. TDHS TrainTN/TNPALS certificate hours are available for all sessions under the umbrella of United Way.

At the conclusion of the Ignite Conference, please take our survey here.

Visit our Read To Succeed Professional Development page here for all recorded webinars and trainings.

2024 Nashville Early Childhood Education Conference

The Ignite Conference supports Early Childhood Educators with resources to enhance their understanding of child development and early education issues and help them provide rich, meaningful educational experiences for all children and families in their care.

Conference Sessions

Expand the dropdowns to learn more about each presenter and their program/organization.

July 23

Pre-conference sessions in-person at United Way of Greater Nashville.

Session 1: Conflict Management for Leaders

Time: 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Location: UWGN Rooms 101/102/103

Presenter: Dr. Leslie Cowell, Dean, College of Education at Lipscomb University
Session Description: This session will describe conflict management strategies for leaders in early childhood settings and provide opportunities for participants to practice.

Dr. Leslie Cowell is the Dean for the College of Education at Lipscomb University. Prior to working at Lipscomb, she was the Dean for the College of Education at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama and worked with the Department of Early Childhood in Alabama, starting and directing three PreK sites in Montgomery for children in vulnerable and marginalized communities. She holds a Ph.D. in Elementary Education, an M.Ed in Reading Education, an M.Ed. in Urban Education, and a certificate in Conflict Management.

Session 2: A Great Place to Work: A Playlist for Leading Your Staff

Time: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: UWGN Rooms 101/102/103

Presenter: Michelle Dedman, TN Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)
Session Description: This session will focus on increasing staff morale and creating workplaces where staff feels valued and encouraged. We will talk about ways to lead well and to begin equipping future leaders in the early education world. Come ready to share ideas of how you are already doing this with your program.

Michelle Dedman has been passionate about quality education for most of her life. As a child, she wanted to be a teacher and spent most of her days crafting lessons and experiences for her stuffed animals. After earning her elementary education degree from Murray State University, she began a career as a teacher and enjoyed teaching children of all ages for almost twenty years. As a next step, Michelle moved into the role of preschool director and spent those five years advocating for professionalism in the preschool world and increasing respect for our early education teachers. She is passionate about helping others develop leadership skills and encouraging teachers to keep up the good work.

About TN Child Care Resource & Referral: TN Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) focuses on training and providing resources for families and child care professionals.  Currently, there are eight Child Care Resource & Referral sites serving all 95 counties in Tennessee. All Tennessee Child Care Resource & Referral Quality Coaches are highly trained and educated to provide Tennessee Department of Human Services licensed child care professionals with the training and technical assistance they need to provide the best care possible for Tennessee’s children.

July 24

All sessions via zoom.

Session 1A: Snap, Clap, Wiggle, and Giggle

Time: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Presenter: Mary Jo Huff
Session Description: Light a fire in a child’s imagination with a little snap, clap, wiggle, and giggle. Get children actively engaged. The shared ideas will help children develop imagination, oral communication skills, auditory discrimination, listening and pre-reading skills, creativity, visual discrimination, critical thinking, and sequencing skills. Attendees and children will develop a love of books, reading and eventually writing stories. When a story comes to “THE END,” it should be the beginning of an expanded conversation: a continuation of the storytelling experience. The workshop will be EDUCATIONAL BRAIN FOOD for everyone.

Mary Jo Huff has been in ECE for over 30 years as a teacher and director of a center with 115 children. Today she visits centers and promotes staff development for literacy. Mary Jo keynotes early childhood conferences at local, state, and national conferences. Mary Jo conducts staff development for childcare providers, Head Start, PreK, and K teachers. She has an innovative and original approach to integrating music, movement, stories, and puppets in the classroom. Mary Jo has stories and music in the Frog Street curriculums. She has written nine resource books, 5 CDs, and an award-winning DVD. This type of learning is supported by research, making it fun and exciting. This “brain-based teaching” promotes accelerated learning and longer retention in a child’s world. She can be contacted at maryjohuff@storytellin.com.

Link to archived session: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-1A

Session 1B: Child Care WAGE$ Tennessee: Caring for Children by Caring for Teachers

Time: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Presenters: Jen Tedder, Lindsey Thurman, and Josue Vega, WAGE$ TN
Session Description: Participants will learn how Signal Centers is partnering with TN DHS to support early childhood educators by providing salary supplements directly to educators. Jen will cover highlights such as qualifications for WAGE$, steps to apply for WAGE$ and resources for continuing higher education in Early Childhood Education.

Jen Tedder is the Director of WAGE$ TN. She holds a BA in Applied Psychology from Carson Newman University, a master’s in social work from University of Tennessee Knoxville and an Ed.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Before joining WAGE$ in Spring of 2023, she served in an administrative role in higher education where she gained experience managing a program that served approximately 1600 students in a 6-county region. Previously, she worked as a school social worker to support families and children of all ages. Jen is passionate about high quality education for every child and sees Childcare WAGE$ as an innovative initiative to keep great teachers in the classroom. She can be contacted at jennifer_tedder@signalcenters.org.
Lindsey Thurman is the Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for WAGE$ TN. She is a proud alumna of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in communications. With a passion for making a difference, she feels right at home in the non-profit sector. A dynamic marketing professional, she thrives on creativity, forging connections with audiences, and navigating the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing. Lindsey’s journey has taken her through diverse experiences, from international endeavors to the fast-paced world of news, and now early childhood education. Lindsey is passionate about sharing the impact stories of early childhood educators as she continues to expand WAGE$’s reach across Tennessee! She can be contacted at lindsey_thurman@signalcenters.org.
Josué Vega is the Marketing and Communication Specialist for Child Care WAGE$ Tennessee. He brings extensive experience as a journalist, former news producer, and university marketer. Josue has also worked for National Public Radio, an experience that fueled his desire to produce quality storytelling for excellent and exciting causes. He can be contacted at josue_vega@signalcenters.org.

About Child Care WAGE$ Tennessee: Child Care WAGE$® TENNESSEE is a statewide initiative which rewards qualifying Early Childhood Educators with salary supplements based on their current education, with the opportunity to increase their supplement as more Early Childhood Education coursework is completed. This promotes higher retention in classrooms, which helps children develop stable attachments with qualified educators, all within a secure learning environment.

Link to the session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-1B

Session 2A: Bringing HOPE and Resiliency: Building up Parents through the building blocks of HOPE

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Presenters: Ashley Jasinski and Stacey Broyles, State of TN-DMHSAS Regional Intervention Program (RIP)
Session Description: To understand the importance of experience in child development, including those ACEs associated with toxic stress, and shifting the focus to positive experiences allows children to form strong relationships and meaningful connections, cultivate positive self-image and self-worth, experience a sense of belonging, and build skills to cope with stress in healthy ways. Same is true for the parents! In this training explore how you can be ‘player of change’ by building resiliency and creating hope, Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE), with the families at your school to ultimately not only build up parents but build rapport and create resiliency for the entire family.

Ashley Jasinski is the Technical Assistance Coordinator for the TDMHSAS’ Regional Intervention Program (RIP), a positive parenting program. Ashley received her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Childhood Development and Learning. Then went on to complete her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a dual specialization in both Child Populations and Childhood Abuse and Trauma. Ashley has over 20 years of experience and multiple certifications as a trainer (such as ACEs, HOPE, CARE Model, and Pyramid Model) which she uses to empower families and educate community members.
Stacey Broyles is the Technical Assistance Coordinator with the Regional Intervention Program. Stacey received a bachelor’s degree and worked in broadcasting before taking on the rewarding and challenging role of motherhood. In 2009 Stacey was introduced to RIP as she was struggling to manage behaviors of her young son. Upon completion of the program, Stacey became a parent Case Manager and later moved in to Program Coordinator and now TA. Through her work at RIP she is able to provide peer support to other parents struggling with similar behavior challenges that she had experienced.

Link to the session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-2A

Session 2B: Fostering Healthy Development through Early Relational Health

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Presenter: Hannah Duiven and Mariah Horton, Office of Strategic Initiatives, Tennessee Department of Health
Session Description: The future prosperity of Tennessee depends on its ability to foster the health and wellbeing of the next generation. Early Relational Health describes the ability to cultivate and sustain safe, stable, and nurturing relationships during the early childhood years, which contribute to Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs). Tennessee is one of few states who have started to collect data on Positive Childhood Experiences; data from our state reveal the important effect of PCEs to promote health and wellbeing across the lifespan. This presentation will review the science of Early Relational Health and the importance of PCEs. We will highlight Tennessee’s most recent data on ACEs and PCEs, and suggest strategies for cross-sector collaboration to promote Early Relational Health.

Hannah Duiven is a passionate advocate for understanding how our childhood experiences shape our opportunity for health across the lifespan. As the Special Projects Manager for the Office of Strategic Initiatives with the Tennessee Department of Health, Hannah coordinates high-priority initiatives to improve health and wellbeing for Tennesseans. Primarily, Hannah serves on projects that address Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences, Trauma-Informed Care, and the Social Drivers of Health.
Mariah Horton has a passion for advancing health equity and educating about Positive Childhood Experiences. She works as the Public Health Executive Fellow at the Office of Strategic Initiatives, creating resources to aid County Health Councils across the state in their Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan process. Mariah received her master’s in public health from the UT Knoxville and her bachelor’s from George Washington University.

About Tennessee Dept. of Health: The Office of Strategic Initiatives serves to bridge TDH resources with local knowledge, priorities, and leadership. We achieve this in 3 ways:

    • We lead the Department of Health’s strategic planning process
    • We provide support to Tennessee’s County Health Councils
    • We foster collaborations to put strategic initiatives into action

Link to the session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-2B

Session 3A: Navigating Excellence - A Comparative Guide to Child Care Accreditation

Time: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Presenter: Storm Webb, NECPA
Session Description: Ready to get started with accreditation but overwhelmed with all the different accrediting bodies to choose from? Join this session for an in-depth comparative analysis of national accreditation processes and standards. Review and discuss the similarities and differences to discover which accrediting organization best suits your program! The presentation will be full of resources and handouts to help your evaluation.

Storm Webb is the third generation in a family of early childhood educators. As the granddaughter of a successful small business owner, whose early care and education programs have been in operation for 50 years, Storm is pleased to bring her understanding of child care ownership and operations to the field of national accreditation, credentialing and advocacy. Storm has been with NECPA since 2013 and was instrumental in acquiring the NCCA as a subsidiary in 2019. Storm holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, with a concentration in Family Studies. As the Executive Director of NECPA and NCCA, Storm works directly with leadership on strategic planning, resource and project management, and team development to support both organizations’ growth objectives and non-profit missions.

Link to session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-3A

Session 3B: Culturally Responsive Family Engagement Practices in Early Childhood

Time: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Presenters: Dr. Ebonyse Mead and Dr. Jen Neitzel, Educational Equity Institute
Session Description: Family engagement in early childhood programs is paramount to the educational success of young children, especially children of diverse cultural, linguistic, and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Despite good intentions, many early childhood programs continue to struggle to successfully engage culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse families. Many programs attempt to engage diverse families with traditional methods of parental involvement such as parent-teacher conferences or back to school nights. Research shows that traditional methods of parental involvement are often school centered and fail to take into consideration the beliefs, goals, interests, and life circumstances of diverse families. Early childhood programs serve varying types of families across different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, for this reason, programs must be intentional about effectively engaging culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse families. By including the culture and considering the socioeconomic backgrounds of families when developing family engagement activities and events, families are more likely to engage because they feel welcomed, respected, and valued. Because families are uniquely diverse, both culturally and linguistically, and have varying needs, preferences, and lifestyles, early childhood programs must engage diverse families through intentional and strategic efforts.

Dr. Ebonyse Mead is the President of the Educational Equity Institute. For 19 years, Ebonyse has worked in communities to improve the health and educational outcomes for children of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Ebonyse frequently provides consultation training on racial equity in educational settings with a particular focus on examining structural barriers to educational equity, implicit racial bias, and culturally responsive instruction. Dr. Mead earned a Doctor of Education in Early Childhood and a Masters in Human Services from Concordia University Chicago. Dr. Mead completed a Masters in Family Studies from Texas Woman’s University and recently completed a graduate certificate in Anti-racist Urban Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Ebonyse is the co-author of Building Equitable Learning Programs: A Social Justice Approach and the Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood. Ebonyse is deeply committed to creating brave spaces to talk about structural racism and promote equitable and just programs in early childhood. She can be contacted at emead76@gmail.com.
Dr. Jen Neitzel is the Executive Director of the Educational Equity Institute, which is focused on eliminating the educational and opportunity gaps within communities through systems level change. Prior to this work, Jen was a Research Scientist and Technical Assistance Provider at FPG Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill for 15 years. During her time at FPG, her work focused on implicit bias; disparities in suspensions and expulsions; trauma; and culturally responsive anti-bias practices. Jen presents frequently at state and national conferences and is widely published in peer-reviewed journals. She also is the author of the book Achieving Equity and Justice in Education through the Work of Systems Change. Jen also is the co-editor and author of the Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood Education. Jen is deeply committed to eradicating the disparities in early childhood through a systems level approach that acknowledges the root causes of the inequities that exist outside of early learning programs, which include food injustice; lack of safe, affordable housing, historical trauma, and lack of access to healthcare (including prenatal). She can be contacted at jen.neitzel@outlook.com.

Link to session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-3B

July 25

All sessions via zoom.

Session 4A: Child Care Business: Standards and Best Practices

Time: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Presenter: Debbie Dillard, TECTA Leadership Advisor West TN
Session Description: Standards and Best Practices in the BUSINESS of your ECE Program. We will examine the key indicators of a successful program from the lens of your BUSINESS processes. As ECE Leaders, we all have the potential to enhance our business processes and understand the significance of these steps in maintaining the financial stability of our programs. Let’s embark on this learning journey together!

Debbie Dillard – My favorite part of belonging to the ECE Community is that although we all bring unique talents, but our passion is unified. For over 30 years, this “Business Degree” human has worked alongside amazing Early Childhood Educators to bring clarity to the BUSINESS side of the industry. My greatest joy is to bring a sense of calm when discussing budget creation/review, developing needs assessments that offer opportunities for growth, and evaluating sustainability/profitability/financial soundness in early learning programs. My service to this industry is my source of pride and joy! The passion to serve young children and families AND be profitable/successful is my call. I aim to keep on answering, for a long time to come! She can be contacted at ddilla17@tnstate.edu.

About TECTA: The Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) works to provide professional development that nurtures the growth of individuals in a community of learners through an articulated statewide higher education systems, resulting in the highest quality early childhood experiences for all of Tennessee’s children.

Link to session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-4A

Session 4B: The Power of Conversational Turns to Support Preliteracy Skills

Time: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Presenters: Amy Marciniak, LENA
Session Description: This interactive session will dive into how early adult-child interactions (conversational turns) leads to the development of the foundational reading skills that ultimately build word recognition and language comprehension.

Amy Marciniak is the Senior Regional Partnerships Director at LENA, a national non-profit for promoting the importance of early talk in birth to children aged five. Amy works with both state and local partners to increase awareness of LENA’s evidence-based research & professional development programs for early educators. Prior to her current role, Amy worked at Teachstone where she served as a trusted strategic advisor for early childhood partners implementing CLASS statewide and regionally across CCR&R networks and Head Start programs. Amy holds a B.S. in Family and Childhood Development from Virginia Tech. She can be contacted at amymarciniak@lena.org.

About LENA: LENA is a national nonprofit on a mission to transform children’s futures through early talk technology and data-driven programs. Researchers, families, and early childhood educators rely on their technology and programs to measurably improve children’s language environments, which is linked to literacy skills, social-emotional development, cognitive growth, and more.

Link to session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-4B

Session 5A: Self-Compassion: Caring For Yourself So You Can Care For Others

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Presenters: Tracy Liebermann, AIMHiTN
Session Description: Our mission is to support all professionals who support the development of children birth-age 8. Studies show that the burnout rate and staff turnover is increasing and the mental health of our early childhood professionals working in the areas of promotion, prevention and intervention for young children is declining. Join us on this journey to encourage, uplift, invigorate and inspire you. We will take a deep dive into self-compassion and the understanding of how it leads to deeper healing and lasting change by looking at the dimensions of wellness and reflecting on how we typically act towards ourselves in difficult times. We will explore how carrying the heavy weight of children’s Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma can be lightened by implementing self-care and self-compassion. We know that you cannot effectively serve others without first caring for yourself so join us so we can help lighten your load.

Tracy Liebermann has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Her career began as a third grade teacher for 9 years and for the past 17 years she has directed a learning center, taught various teacher preparation courses at colleges and universities, served as a CCR&R coach and has been with AIMHiTN since July 2022 where she currently serves at the IECHMC Consultation Coordinator. She is also the President of the Knoxville Association for Children’s Early Education. She can be contacted at tracyl@aimhitn.org. Find out more about Association for Infant Mental Health in Tennessee on their website at https://www.aimhitn.org/.

About AIMHiTN: AIMHiTN is dedicated to providing resources and education to professionals who work with children age 0 to 6. Our goal is to help build healthy relationships between children and their caregivers, promote positive interactions, and provide information about early childhood development that will help children thrive.

Link to session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-5A

Session 5B: Advocacy 101

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Presenters: Katie Growden, Save the Children Action Network
Session Description: What is advocacy? Why do we need to do it? How do I even get started? Join us to learn the basics to advocate for early childhood education and you!

Katie Growden is a mom of three and an early childhood educator with over 25 years of experience working with children ages birth through 6 years. Katie moved into advocacy work to raise awareness of issues faced every day by children, families, and the early education workforce. Before joining SCAN’s staff as Tennessee State Manager, Katie served as Public Policy Chair for the Nashville Area Association for the Education of Young Children and as a Volunteer Leader for SCAN’s Middle Tennessee Community Action Team. She and her family have made their home in Middle Tennessee since her husband completed his military career in 1995. When she’s not using her voice for kids, Katie enjoys supporting Nashville Soccer Club, spending time with friends and family, and traveling (especially to see her grandbaby). She can be contacted at kgrowden@savechildren.org.

About SCAN: Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) was created in 2014 as the political advocacy arm of Save the Children, to be the political voice for kids. We work across the United States to ensure that the issues critical to children’s lives and futures are given top priority by our elected leaders, building bipartisan support to make sure every child has a strong start in life. In addition to our federal work, we helped secure nearly $800 million in state level investments (across 10 states) to expand early learning programs and ensure American children have enough to eat. In 2022, we met with U.S. lawmakers more than 250 TIMES & GENERATED 840,000 messages urging them to invest in children in the U.S. and worldwide. We provide the training and the connection to decision makers to help you use your voice for the children and families you serve.

Link to the session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-5B

Session 6A: The Garden of Learning: Cultivating Community Partnerships in Early Education

Time: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Presenter: Alyssa Dituro, Early Childhood Education Consultant
Session Description: Explore how early childhood educators can cultivate fruitful partnerships with community organizations, businesses, and local resources to enrich learning experiences for young children. From garden-themed activities to plant-based learning, this proposal offers a blooming good time for all involved.

Alyssa Dituro is an esteemed Early Childhood Education Consultant with over 15 years of experience in the field. She holds an endorsement in Infant Mental Health, showcasing her expertise in nurturing young children’s emotional well-being. Alyssa is dedicated to promoting best practices, fostering positive learning environments, and empowering educators and families to support children’s holistic development. Her passion for early childhood education shines through her commitment to excellence and advocacy for children’s well-being. She can be contacted at alyssadituro@gmail.com.

Link to session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-6A

Session 6B: Finding Calm in the Chaos

Time: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Presenter: Taylor Thurnau, TN Voices
Session Description: Strategies for Protecting Classroom Relationships to Prevent Challenging Behaviors and Increase Educator Social & Emotional wellbeing.

Taylor Thurnau is an Early Childhood professional with over 8 years of experience in the field. She began her career in Florida as an Infant/ Toddler Specialist teaching Early Head Start Students in the classroom. After that, she served as Preschool Director and went on to become an Early Childhood Quality Specialist/ Coach. Taylor then moved to Nashville, Tennessee and worked as Mental Health/ Behavior Intervention Specialist supporting Head Start and Early Head Start Programs. Currently, Taylor works at TN Voices, a mental health non-profit located in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. In her current role, Taylor serves as the Ready. Set. Grow! Program Director. This program offers support for educators and caregivers of young children 0-8 years old residing in Tennessee at no-cost. Available services include training, technical assistance, consultation, and family coaching. Taylor holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Education in Applied Behavior Analysis. When she is not working, Taylor enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family!

Link to the session archive: https://thefamilycollective.thinkific.com/courses/2024-vidcon-6B

July 26

All sessions in-person at Nashville State Community College.

Keynote

Time: 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Location: C-210

Presenters: Brian Hull and Mary Tanner, Brianimations Puppetry Storytelling
Session Description: Puppetry in the classroom is explored through an in-depth look at the history and practical use of puppets. In this interactive presentation, Brian Hull and Mary Tanner guide you through inspiring ways to bring puppetry skills to connect with students.

For forty years Emmy-award winner, Brian Hull, has successfully created puppet and live entertainment shows for Opryland USA, Dollywood Theme Park and on his own. He dedicated 25 years to the creation of the award-winning and world-famous Wishing Chair Productions at the Nashville Public Library, a puppet program that generated praise for consistently bringing up to 100,000 patrons a year into the library. His inspired idea of hosting International Puppet Festivals at the library is legend in the puppetry world. Brian is sought after as a puppet builder, illustrator, animator, writer and director, actor, voice over artist and opera singer.
Mary Tanner began working with Brian Hull at Wishing Chair Productions in 2004. She is an accomplished puppet builder, writer, performer and sculptor. All these skills are applied to the creation of Brianimations Puppetry Storytelling original works. Before entering the puppetry world Mary spent her formative acting years in New York and Los Angeles appearing as a regular in several national television series as well as many guest appearances and lead roles in a few independent films. She received the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Fellowship Grant for acting in 2005 and was a regular performer in Nashville theater during the 1990s and early 2000s.

About Brianimations Puppetry Storytelling: With compelling live performances and striking visual style, Brianimations Puppetry Storytelling brings meaningful and accessible theatrical experiences to children and their families through the art of puppetry. Brianimations can be contacted at brianimate@aol.com or www.brianimations.com.

Session 1A: Observation, Documentation, Assessment Oh My!

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location:
S-117

Presenter: Melissa Fleck and Kassidy Schmidt, Nashville State Community College
Session Description: This session will focus on using observation, documentation, and assessment to support effective, and intentional teaching. Attendees will leave with strategies to help incorporate observation, documentation, and assessment into the regular routines of the classroom.

Kassidy Schmidt, MA, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education at Nashville State Community College. She is an alumni of California State University, Los Angeles who has a passion for educating teachers to provide the highest quality care for children and support for their families. She can be contacted at kassidy.schmidt@nscc.edu.
Melissa Fleck is an early childhood professional with over 20 years of experience, specialized training, and education in early childhood education. After several years in the classroom, she branched out to an administrative role. Shortly after, she began working at Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) at Tennessee State University where she served as a TECTA Specialist for eight years. She is currently Program Coordinator/Assistant Professor at Nashville State Community College where she teaches full time in the early childhood department. She can be contacted at melissa.fleck@nscc.edu.

Session 1B: Using the FBSApp + AI to Support Families of Young Children with Challenging Behaviors

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: S-113

Presenter: Claire Winchester, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA, Growth Early Childhood Behavior Consulting
Session Description: The purpose of this session is to (1) present a technology-based coaching intervention for caregivers of children with challenging behavior using the Family Behavior Support application (FBSApp), (2) describe approaches to training caregivers to implement function-based strategies, and (3) highlight the benefits and challenges of a telehealth model of treatment and conducting research in applied settings across the globe.

Claire Winchester, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA is an early childhood behavior coach, consultant, and researcher who works with families, schools, and organizations around the world. Her specialty is translating research into practical, every day behavior solutions for the adults who spend the most time with young children – parents and teachers. She has over 15 years experience working with children and families in all kinds of contexts, from babysitting to research to diagnostic assessments, and is passionate about using the breadth and depth of her experience to better the lives of children and their caregivers around the world! She can be contacted at claire@growth-ecbco.com.

Session 1C: Creating Educators that Implement Developmentally Appropriate Practices Effectively: The Childcare Administration Approach

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: S-118

Presenter: Mercedes Ford Miller, TECTA TECPAC
Session Description: “You were the best teacher in the building and were promoted…..now what??” This training will take a deep dive into how to create educators in your building that will implement developmentally appropriate practices most of the time. We will approach this topic from an administrative perspective by discussing policies, procedures, school culture, and coaching that contribute to building an A and B team inside and outside the classroom.

Mercedes Ford-Miller is a passionate advocate for early childhood education and training with over 10 years of experience in the field. Mercedes earned her BS in Human Development and Family Studies from The University of Alabama where she began as a Teaching Assistant. She went on to attend The University of Southern Mississippi and obtained her MS in Child and Family Studies. Her academia afforded her the opportunity to serve in various roles in the field including Lead teacher, Assistant Director, Director, and Instructional Coach. This professional experience provided her with insight that allows her to successfully navigate administering Tennessee’s Early Childhood Program Administrator Credential while serving as Adjunct Faculty at Tennessee State University in the Department of Human Sciences. Mercedes continues to grow her knowledge in the field while writing her doctoral dissertation to achieve an Ed.D in Educational Leadership for PreK-12th grade. She can be contacted at mford17@tnstate.edu.

Session 1D: We are a Team: A Workshop to Promote Culturally Responsive Emotional Development in Children 0-6

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: S-112

Presenters: Flor Abarca, IMH-E® and Veronica Rosa-Sandoval, LMSW, IMH-E®, AIMHiTN
Session Description: In recent years there has been an increase in the number of young children entering early childhood education programs with little social and emotional skills. This at times can cause the educators in the classrooms to feel compassion-fatigue and stressed, which in turn can have an adverse effect on the child’s development & learning. This presentation will highlight research-based, culturally responsive strategies that caregivers and early childhood teachers can use to address young children’s social and emotional development, helping foster a more reflective approach to supporting a child in the classroom.

Flor Abarca BA, IMH-E®, is the Linguistic & Culture Advisor at the Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee. As a young immigrant child in the United States going to school was a challenge for Flor, learning a new culture, while also learning about where she was from made it difficult for learning. Ms. Abarca went on to complete her bachelor’s at Southern Illinois University in psychology with a focus on Early Childhood Development to be able to help children gain skills to help them in life. Flor is trained in the Growing Brain Series by Zero to Three furthering her knowledge in brain development. Her role at AIMHiTN has given her the platform to be able to help with Linguistic & Culture trainings & resources to help provide culturally responsive environments that assist in learning for our multi-lingual professionals & communities. She can be contacted at FlorA@aimhitn.org.
Veronica Rosa-Sandoval, LMSW, IMH-E® is the very first Bilingual/Bicultural Workforce Development Specialist working for the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, with over 15 years of experience in the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health field. Veronica earned her master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University (WSU). Veronica has an authentic passion for the fostering of emotional well-being in young children and their families. She recognizes that early healthy relationships are pivotal to reduce risk factors, and to prevent emotional harm in children. One her biggest accomplishment has been advocating for the BIPOC community, by using her Spanish bilingual skills to bring awareness around topics that affect those who are impacted by language and cultural barriers. She believes in the power of relationships and aspires to keep building connections and professional relationships with the purpose of collaboration and growth. She can be contacted at vrosa@allianceaimh.org or learn more at https://www.allianceaimh.org/staff.

About AIMHiTN: Linguistic & Culture Advisor mission statement ” The L&C program informs professionals about the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of our families in TN by providing culturally responsive resources and training so that all children can develop in a healthy and inclusive community.

Session 1E: Joyful Early Learning Through Emergent Curriculum

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: S-105

Presenter: Kathleen Seabolt and Nea McKeehan, Vanderbilt University
Session Description: An example of a Whole Child, play-based practice integrating children’s developmental domains in an Emergent Curriculum. This session provides as a case study the documentation of one early learning classroom’s cycle of inquiry – a month long research project prompted by a nature walk. The session will travel from the moment of teachers’ observation of the children’s interest to the many activities that comprised investigation and finally to the celebration of learning.

Kathleen Seabolt serves as executive director for the Child and Family Center at Vanderbilt University. She earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership and a BA in Child Development, Communications and Social Policy from Mills College, and studied Communications at Chapman University. A former preschool and kindergarten teacher, Kathleen is passionate about Nature Education and fostering children’s love of language and literature. An avid birder and baker, she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and children and a large Akbash dog named Lucille. She can be contacted at kathleen.c.seabolt@vanderbilt.edu.
Nea McKeehan teaches at The Acorn School at Vanderbilt University in her primary role as the Owls Kindergarten Teacher, a role she established in the program’s pilot year. She completed the Stanley British Teacher Preparation Program in Denver and earned her master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado. She taught kindergarten for two years in Denver Public Schools and spent twelve years at Paddington Station, a play-based school, teaching toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners and then serving as the Director for two years. She was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. She can be contacted at cornelia.g.mckeehan@vanderbilt.edu.

Session 1F: The Impact of Play on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: S-104

Presenter: Mandy Royston, AIMHiTN
Session Description: Pack your adventure bags, as we go on a bear hunt filled with learning, obstacles to overcome, and new experiences. As educators, we are often driven with the desire to incorporate play into our children’s learning experiences, enhancing children’s development process. This bear hunt will define why play is important to a child’s development, how to use serve and return tools through playful connections, and the adventure children go through as they engage in each step of play, always coming back to the heart of development, which is the secure caregiver relationship.

Mandy Royston is the Training and Technical Assistance Advisor at AIMHiTN. With a Bachelor of Science in Education from East Tennessee State University and an IMH-E® endorsement. Mandy began her career in the classroom, nurturing elementary and middle school students, with a special focus on intervention for those requiring extra support. In 2017, she redirected her focus toward early intervention, serving as a Developmental Therapist and then later as a Service Coordinator for the Tennessee Early Intervention System. Mandy’s tenure in this field further solidified her commitment to supporting children and families across various developmental milestones. She can be contacted at mandyr@aimhitn.org.

Session 1G: Connecting Literacy to Leadership

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: S-116

Presenter: Lisa Maddox-Vinson, TECTA
Session Description: Continuous learning enhances a leader’s communication and interpersonal skills, enabling them to effectively connect with and inspire their teams. By staying updated on the latest leadership theories and practices, leaders can develop new techniques for motivating and engaging their employees. During this session, you will hear children’s books that make the connection to leadership skills that all staff and children can learn from.

Lisa Maddox-Vinson is very passionate about Early Childhood Education. For 15 years, she was the Children’s Library Director for the LaVergne Public Library, ranked 5th in the nation for its children’s programs. Lisa was in Early Childhood Education at Austin Peay State University with the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance. She has taken on a new position as a Leadership Coordinator for the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance at Tennessee State University. She has an award-winning children’s recording, Snap, Clap, Wiggle, and Giggle, which are full of songs to enhance any Early Childhood Classroom. She can be contacted at emaddoxv@tnstate.edu.

About TECTA: The Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) works to provide professional development that nurtures the growth of individuals in a community of learners through an articulated statewide higher education systems, resulting in the highest quality early childhood experiences for all of Tennessee’s children.

Session 2A: Child Care WAGE$ Tennessee: Caring for children by caring for teachers

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: S-118

Presenters: Jen Tedder, Lindsey Thurman and Josue Vega, WAGE$ TN
Session Description: Participants will learn how Signal Centers is partnering with TN DHS to support early childhood educators by providing salary supplements directly to educators. Jen will cover highlights such as qualifications for WAGE$, steps to apply for WAGE$ and resources for continuing higher education in Early Childhood Education.

Jen Tedder is the Director of WAGE$ TN. She holds a BA in Applied Psychology from Carson Newman University, a master’s in social work from University of Tennessee Knoxville and an Ed.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Before joining WAGE$ in Spring of 2023, she served in an administrative role in higher education where she gained experience managing a program that served approximately 1600 students in a 6-county region. Previously, she worked as a school social worker to support families and children of all ages. Jen is passionate about high quality education for every child and sees Childcare WAGE$ as an innovative initiative to keep great teachers in the classroom. She can be contacted at jennifer_tedder@signalcenters.org.
Lindsey Thurman is the Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for WAGE$ TN. She is a proud alumna of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in communications. With a passion for making a difference, she feels right at home in the non-profit sector. A dynamic marketing professional, she thrives on creativity, forging connections with audiences, and navigating the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing. Lindsey’s journey has taken her through diverse experiences, from international endeavors to the fast-paced world of news, and now early childhood education. Lindsey is passionate about sharing the impact stories of early childhood educators as she continues to expand WAGE$’s reach across Tennessee! She can be contacted at lindsey_thurman@signalcenters.org.
Josué Vega is the Marketing and Communication Specialist for Child Care WAGE$ Tennessee. He brings extensive experience as a journalist, former news producer, and university marketer. Josue has also worked for National Public Radio, an experience that fueled his desire to produce quality storytelling for excellent and exciting causes. He can be contacted at josue_vega@signalcenters.org.

About Child Care WAGE$ Tennessee: Child Care WAGE$® TENNESSEE is a statewide initiative which rewards qualifying Early Childhood Educators with salary supplements based on their current education, with the opportunity to increase their supplement as more Early Childhood Education coursework is completed. This promotes higher retention in classrooms, which helps children develop stable attachments with qualified educators, all within a secure learning environment.

Session 2B: Adventures in Fractured Fairytales

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: S-116

Presenter: Ashmin Small, MA CDFR IMH-E, TN Child Care Resource and Referral Network
Session Description: Get ready to plunge into the pages of some familiar tales and embrace how these tales can and have been retold. Get ready to embrace the remix.

Ashmin Small is currently the Central Regional Coordinator for TN Child Care Resource and Referral Network. She is an effervescent trainer who hails from the beaches of eastern North Carolina who has a passion for training especially in the world of Early Literacy. She can be contacted at ashmin_small@signalcenters.org.

Session 2C: FUN-damentals of Read-Alouds: Spark Children’s Conversations and Curiosity about Books (Core Model)

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: S-117

Presenter: Karen Bentall, Room to Read
Session Description: Join us to learn the fundamentals of fun and effective read-alouds. As a result of attending this session, you will be able to:

  • Choose from a variety of children’s literature to select books for read-alouds.
  • Read aloud with expression and intent to help children understand and enjoy books.
  • Spark productive, inclusive conversations with small and large groups of children.
Karen Bentall, literacy & library director at Room to Read, a leading global education nonprofit. With 20+ years as a public-school librarian, she spreads reading joy across cultures, embracing multilingualism. An advocate of children’s literature, her research focuses on read-alouds. Notable awards: American Library Association’s Toor Scholarship, Jacqueline Wilson Award for research in children’s literature at University of Cambridge. Karen received a BSc (Econ) Library and Information Services from University of Wales; MPhil Education from the University of Cambridge, UK.

About Room to Read: In 2000, Room to Read launched its mission to support every child’s right to learn by providing storybooks to children in Nepal. Over the last two decades, Room to Read has evolved and expanded its work worldwide to benefit more children in historically low-income communities. Today, Room to Read is an international education organization that has worked in 24 countries and benefited more than 39 million young learners through programs that systemically improve the acquisition of literacy and life skills. Educational outcomes significantly improve when primary school-aged children are supported by high-quality literacy lessons and books, and when adolescents, particularly girls who are most likely to drop out of school early, gain the confidence and skills they need to overcome limitations, stay in school and pursue their dreams.

Session 2D: Back to Basics with Occupational Therapy (OT)

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: S-113

Presenters: Joanna West and Melissa Hamilton
Session Description: In a world full of cell phones, iPads and computers we need to get back to the basics. The basic fine motor and gross motor skills that can help children to grow to their fullest potential. This session will open your eyes to what is happening in programs in our area and enlighten you to what you can do. Simple tips inside the classroom to get you started on those fine and gross motor skills.

Joanna West is an Occupational Therapist with 34 years of experience in pediatrics. She has been in both the private and public sector evaluating and consulting young children. Joanna is currently on staff at a Nashville area preschool where she trains teachers and staff. In addition to training, Joanna develops curricula for all 19 classrooms (8 months old – 6 years old) and facilitates gross motor/sensory classes as well as fine motor skills.
Melissa Hamilton has over 20 years of experience as the director of a state licensed weekday program in the Nashville area. She manages a staff of 37+ teachers and works closely with 150+ families to provide the best preschool experience for young children.

Session 2E: ChildcareTennessee: More Than Just Grants

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: S-112

Presenters: Daphne Billingsley and Julia Clark, Childcare TN
Session Description: ChildcareTennessee.com is your one-stop for ECE resources. This panel will take you on a deep dive into the site’s more than 2,000 resources. Topics will include “Becoming an HR Expert,” discount programs, best business practices, and resources to enhance quality.

Daphne Billingsley worked for over 20 years supporting children and families across Tennessee before joining CFMT’s ChildcareTennessee initiative. During her career, she provided direct care and supervision for teens in group homes, helped develop child and public welfare policy, and managed foster care child permanency plans with many successful adoptive placements. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Service Management. Daphne is the West Tennessee Regional Coordinator and travels that region holding trainings on ChildcareTennessee.com and assisting child care agencies in applying for ChildcareTennessee’s Support and Enhancement Grant. She can be contacted at dbillingsley@cfmt.org.
Julia Clark is the ChildcareTennessee Coordinator for Northeast Tennessee. She travels that region holding trainings on ChildcareTennessee.com and assisting child care agencies in applying for ChildcareTennessee’s Support and Enhancement Grant. Previously, she worked for over 20 years in early childhood education as a Director. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Organization Development from Spring Arbor University in Michigan. She can be contacted at jclark@cfmt.org.

Session 2F: Educator's Toolkit Training: Supporting Smooth Transitions

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: S-105

Presenter: Gracie Stubbs, TN Voices
Session Description: Learn strategies and resources to increase transition efficiency and promote engagement in order to reduce challenging behavior.

Gracie has a background in early childhood education and is passionate about children’s mental health. Educationally, Gracie holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Special Education with an emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis. Gracie has served as a training facilitator, consultant, and coach. In her current role in the TN Voices Ready. Set. Grow! Program, Gracie is a Program Manager supporting the Middle and East Tennessee.

Session 2G: Let’s Get MNPS K-Ready!

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: S-104

Presenters: Mariechelle Bonifacio and Fanita Cameron, MNPS
Session Description: Learn about the Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) kindergarten registration process and kindergarten readiness family resources that you can share with families you support, as well as build your knowledge on the academic expectations needed to ensure a smooth transition to kindergarten for students.

Mariechelle Bonifacio is the Community Outreach – Kindergarten Readiness Coordinator for the Early Learning Department in Metro Nashville Public Schools with over 24 years of experience in communications, marketing, and community outreach. She has served as the Director of Corporate Partnerships for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Community Education & Public Outreach Manager for SoCalGas and Regional Marketing Manager for Schneider Electric. She can be contacted at Mariechelle.Bonifacio@mnps.org.
Fanita Cameron is the Pre-K Professional Development Coordinator for the Early Learning Department in Metro Nashville Public Schools with over 25 years of experience in Early Childhood Education. She has served as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, a reading specialist for the Florida Department of Education and a curriculum developer for CPALMS. She can be contacted at Fanita.Cameron@mnps.org.

Session 3A: How to Engage Candidates in Supporting ECE

Time: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: S-116

Presenters: Katie Growden, Save the Children Action Network
Session Description: It’s an election year, so let’s talk about how to engage your representatives in supporting Early Childhood Education.

Katie Growden is a mom of three and an early childhood educator with over 25 years of experience working with children ages birth through 6 years. Katie moved into advocacy work to raise awareness of issues faced every day by children, families, and the early education workforce. Before joining SCAN’s staff as Tennessee State Manager, Katie served as Public Policy Chair for the Nashville Area Association for the Education of Young Children and as a Volunteer Leader for SCAN’s Middle Tennessee Community Action Team. She and her family have made their home in Middle Tennessee since her husband completed his military career in 1995. When she’s not using her voice for kids, Katie enjoys supporting Nashville Soccer Club, spending time with friends and family, and traveling (especially to see her grandbaby). She can be contacted at kgrowden@savechildren.org.

About SCAN: Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) was created in 2014 as the political advocacy arm of Save the Children, to be the political voice for kids. We work across the United States to ensure that the issues critical to children’s lives and futures are given top priority by our elected leaders, building bipartisan support to make sure every child has a strong start in life. In addition to our federal work, we helped secure nearly $800 million in state level investments (across 10 states) to expand early learning programs and ensure American children have enough to eat. In 2022, we met with U.S. lawmakers more than 250 TIMES & GENERATED 840,000 messages urging them to invest in children in the U.S. and worldwide. We provide the training and the connection to decision makers to help you use your voice for the children and families you serve.

Session 3B: Don’t Postpone Joy! Ways to Overcome Workplace Burnout

Time: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: S-118

Presenter: Veronica Ashley, CCR&R
Session Description: Do you feel emotionally exhausted or lack motivation and interest? Workplace burnout happens to the best of us. By participating in this workshop, you will be provided tools, strategies, and fun ways to recuperate from general burnout. Don’t postpone joy, join us today!

Veronica Ashley has worked in childcare within the Central area of Tennessee for over 25 years. She has held positions such as a classroom teacher of various ages, assistant preschool director, and preschool director. Veronica’s been employed with Tennessee Child Care Resource and Referral as an Early Childhood Quality Coach for the past 6 years. She holds a degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis of Early Childhood Education from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public service management with Cumberland University to be completed in the summer of 2025. She can be contacted at veronica_ashley@signalcenters.org or by phone at 615-630-1251.

Session 3C: Early Literacy for Toddlers

Time: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: S-113

Presenter: Shannon Albee, Nashville Public Library
Session Description: We teach five simple ways to help children develop skills they need to learn to read. We also offer ideas on how to incorporate dramatic play into story time. Age-appropriate book suggestions, fingerplays, and activities are provided.

Shannon Albee wears two hats as the Training and Curriculum Coordinator for Nashville Public Library’s award-winning early literacy outreach program Bringing Books to Life. She coordinates the seasonal curriculum guides that go with the Puppet Truck shows and she designs and implements professional development trainings for teachers of early childhood education. She can be contacted at Shannon.albee@nashville.gov.

Session 3D: Lessons from the Classroom: How to Create Long-Lasting Parent-Teacher Partnerships in Today’s World

Time: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: S-112

Presenters: Ashley Jasinski, Regional Intervention Program (RIP); Robin Dyer and Gigi Kinounza, Glen Leven Presbyterian Church Day School; Jennifer Strange, RIP and the Acorn School at Vanderbilt University; and Jonda Earls, King’s Daughters Child Development Center.
Session Description: Building relationships with parents is a fundamental requirement for not only a successful school year but also to help bolster academic achievement in their children. However, in today’s world between teacher’s and parent’s limited time, barriers due to company rules/protocol, and varying cultures and perspectives, etc., it is not always easy! In this session a panel of educators (including infant, toddler and preschool) will discuss real-world examples on barriers they face and how they ultimately were able to successfully integrated family engagement strategies into their classroom for long-lasting parent-teacher partnerships.

Ashley Jasinski is the Technical Assistance Coordinator for the TDMHSAS’ Regional Intervention Program (RIP), a positive parenting program. Ashley received her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Childhood Development and Learning. Then went on to complete her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a dual specialization in both Child Populations and Childhood Abuse and Trauma. Ashley has over 20 years of experience and multiple certifications as a trainer (such as ACEs, HOPE, CARE Model, and Pyramid Model) which she uses to empower families and educate community members. She can be contacted at ashley.jasinski@tn.gov.

Joining her will be:

Robin Dyer – 2s and 3s teacher at Glen Leven Presbyterian Church Day School.
Gigi Kinounza – 3s and 4s teacher at Glen Leven Presbyterian Day School.
Jennifer Strange of RIP and the Acorn School at Vanderbilt University.
Jonda Earls – infant and toddler teacher at King’s Daughters Child Development Center.

Session 3E: Transformative Leadership: Utilizing the PAS-3 to Enhance Program Quality

Time: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: S-105

Presenters: L. Shavone White, TECTA
Session Description: Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your early childhood program? Join me for an overview of the Program Administration Scale (PAS-3). Come learn how this tool can elevate your program quality through evidence-based assessment and strategic action.

L. Shavone White is a seasoned professional with over two decades of dedicated experience in the field of early childhood education. Her unwavering commitment to the well-being and development of young children has been the cornerstone of her career. With a wealth of knowledge and expertise accumulated over the years, Shavone has become a respected leader in the early childhood community.

Session 3F: Looking in the Mirror: Social-Emotional Learning Starts with Me

Time: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: S-104

Presenters: Zoe Matthews, CCR&R
Session Description: It’s no secret that caring for young children can feel overwhelming. We want to teach children self-regulation skills, but how can we do that if we aren’t regulated ourselves? In this session we will turn inward to identify the daily challenges that grind us down, then explore opportunities to strengthen our regulation skills, dispelling common self-care myths along the way.

Zoe Matthews is a CCR&R Infant Toddler Quality Coach with over nine years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education in Nashville, TN. She has earned an Infant Mental Health Endorsement from AIMHiTN and is certified in the Program for Infant Toddler Care and the Pyramid Infant-Toddler Observation Scale. A passionate advocate on behalf of the ECE workforce, Zoe serves on action teams with Raising Readers Nashville and co-facilitates the TN Regional Working Group for Defending the Early Years. She can be contacted at zoe_matthews@signalcenters.org.

Session 3G: Focus Group: IGNITE Conference Review and Needs Evaluation

Time: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: S-116

Presenter: Elevate Consulting
Session Description: This guided focus group, led by Elevate Consulting, will be an open discussion on the content and structure of the IGNITE conference. The session will focus on articulating the strengths and areas of improvement for the conference, including the identification of content gaps to be filled in future Raising Readers events.

Elevate Consulting is a Nashville-based consulting firm that partners with service organizations to help them find ways to better solve problems, tell their stories, and share their impact. They utilize innovative, rigorous, and participatory methods to support learning, improvement, and impact measurement. Find them at consultelevate.com.

Session 4A: The Power of Relationships

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: S-117

Presenter: Paul Coggins and Nathan Hensley, Centerstone
Session Description: This session will unpack the science of relationships and their impact on early childhood development. Participants will focus on practices for building relationships with children and their families including specific activities. Participants will also learn more strategies to promote healthy relationships with children and their families that affirm family culture and identity.

Paul Coggins holds an Ed. S. from the University of Tennessee. Paul spent over forty years in the education system in a variety of positions including teacher, principal and professor. After retirement, Paul dedicated his work to working with families to promote positive childhood experiences across the state of Tennessee. Paul is currently an Outreach and Education Specialists with Centerstone’s Early Childhood Services. Paul is the father of four and a grandfather of ten.

Nathan Hensley holds a B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Nathan is currently an Outreach and Education Specialist with Centerstone’s Early Childhood Services with previous experience in peer support with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Nathan is passionate about the power of relationships and empowering teachers across Tennessee.

Session 4B: Paths to Success-Establishment/Expansion Grants, Support & Enhancement Grant Facts

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: S-113

Presenters: Daphne Billingsley and Julia Clark, Childcare TN
Session Description: Together we will demystify the TDHS Grants and how you can best leverage these resources to build a program that will thrive in any economic environment.

Daphne Billingsley worked for over 20 years supporting children and families across Tennessee before joining CFMT’s ChildcareTennessee initiative. During her career, she provided direct care and supervision for teens in group homes, helped develop child and public welfare policy, and managed foster care child permanency plans with many successful adoptive placements. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Service Management. Daphne is the West Tennessee Regional Coordinator and travels that region holding trainings on ChildcareTennessee.com and assisting child care agencies in applying for ChildcareTennessee’s Support and Enhancement Grant. She can be contacted at dbillingsley@cfmt.org.

Julia Clark is the ChildcareTennessee Coordinator for Northeast Tennessee. She travels that region holding trainings on ChildcareTennessee.com and assisting child care agencies in applying for ChildcareTennessee’s Support and Enhancement Grant. Previously, she worked for over 20 years in early childhood education as a Director. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Organization Development from Spring Arbor University in Michigan. She can be contacted at jclark@cfmt.org.

Session 4C: Transformational Leadership & Advocacy

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: S-112

Presenter: Tevis Haynie, Sivet Empowerment LLC and (Grace & Love) Maternal Health Services
Session Description: Join us to discuss the importance of effective leadership and the importance of relationship building and communication. What is transformational leadership and what does advocacy look like in early childcare (education) etc. I will discuss the characteristics of a transformational leader, different leadership styles, and the importance of a transformational leader.

Ms. Tevis Haynie, MS. M.A., has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (P4-5) from Western Kentucky University, holds a Master’s in Human Behaviors/Services from Capella University, and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership with two certifications in Professional Performance Coaching and Global Leadership from Lipscomb University. With 23 years vested in education, she has spent the majority of her time in early childcare and elementary education as a director, assistant director, and teacher. Ms. Haynie currently the founder and CEO of Sivet Empowerment LLC and (Grace & Love) Maternal Health Services. She can be contacted at tevis.haynie@gmail.com.

Session 4D: Spark Fun: Conversations and Curiosity about Nonfiction Books with Dialogic Read-Alouds (Non-Fiction Read-Alouds)

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: S-118

Presenter: Karen Bentall, Room to Read
Session Description: Join us to explore the power and fun of non-fiction read-alouds. As a result of attending this session, you will be able to:

  • Choose from a variety of non-fiction books for reading aloud with elementary school students (k-5)
  • Pair read-alouds with strategies that help children understand and enjoy non-fiction books across subjects and topics.
  • Engage students in nuanced, inclusive classroom discussions that are rooted in close reading and emphasize critical thinking (defined as an evidence-based, rational, self-aware approach to developing a point of view and understanding other viewpoints.)

Karen Bentall, literacy & library director at Room to Read, a leading global education nonprofit. With 20+ years as a public-school librarian, she spreads reading joy across cultures, embracing multilingualism. An advocate of children’s literature, her research focuses on read-alouds. Notable awards: American Library Association’s Toor Scholarship, Jacqueline Wilson Award for research in children’s literature at University of Cambridge. Karen received a BSc (Econ) Library and Information Services from University of Wales; MPhil Education from the University of Cambridge, UK.

About Room to Read: In 2000, Room to Read launched its mission to support every child’s right to learn by providing storybooks to children in Nepal. Over the last two decades, Room to Read has evolved and expanded its work worldwide to benefit more children in historically low-income communities. Today, Room to Read is an international education organization that has worked in 24 countries and benefited more than 39 million young learners through programs that systemically improve the acquisition of literacy and life skills. Educational outcomes significantly improve when primary school-aged children are supported by high-quality literacy lessons and books, and when adolescents, particularly girls who are most likely to drop out of school early, gain the confidence and skills they need to overcome limitations, stay in school and pursue their dreams.

Session 4E: The Hidden Faces of Homelessness: Children and Youth in our Communities

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: S-104

Presenters: Catherine Knowles, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Session Description: Each year more than 1.5 million school-age children are identified as experiencing homelessness in school districts throughout our country. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act defines homelessness in broad terms as anyone who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate night-time residence. Students experiencing homelessness have federally guaranteed rights that offer them immediate enrollment in school along with the right to school stability, transportation, resources and other supports. This session is designed for teachers, school staff and others who have a desire to understand the challenges and barriers families may encounter in the school setting and who are interested in supporting their students and families in obtaining their educational goals.

Catherine Knowles has served as the Homeless Education Program Coordinator of Metro Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tennessee for twenty-five years. During that time The HERO Program for Families in Transition has grown from serving 200 students a year to more than 3,200. Catherine is recognized as a leader and advocate not only in Nashville, but also throughout the state of Tennessee and nationally. Catherine was recognized in 2019 as The Homeless Liaison of the Year by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. She currently serves on three state-wide councils under appointments from the Governor as a service provider representing the concerns of families who are experiencing homelessness. She is a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Homelessness Planning Council and Vice President of Unicycle — a local non-profit that provides gently used school clothing to students throughout her local school district of 82,000 students. As a native Nashvillan, Catherine is deeply committed to improving resources and services to those in the community who have been displaced by the city’s growth. She can be contacted at catherine.knowles@mnps.org.

Session 4F: Child Care Business: Standards and Best Practices

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: S-105

Presenters: Debbie Dillard, TECTA
Session Description: Standards and Best Practices in the BUSINESS of your ECE Program. We will examine the key indicators of a successful program from the lens of your BUSINESS processes. As ECE Leaders, we all have the potential to enhance our business processes and understand the significance of these steps in maintaining the financial stability of our programs. Let’s embark on this learning journey together!

Debbie Dillard – My favorite part of belonging to the ECE Community is that although we all bring unique talents, but our passion is unified. For over 30 years, this “Business Degree” human has worked alongside amazing Early Childhood Educators to bring clarity to the BUSINESS side of the industry. My greatest joy is to bring a sense of calm when discussing budget creation/review, developing needs assessments that offer opportunities for growth, and evaluating sustainability/profitability/financial soundness in early learning programs. My service to this industry is my source of pride and joy! The passion to serve young children and families AND be profitable/successful is my call. I aim to keep on answering, for a long time to come! She can be contacted at ddilla17@tnstate.edu.

About TECTA: The Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) works to provide professional development that nurtures the growth of individuals in a community of learners through an articulated statewide higher education systems, resulting in the highest quality early childhood experiences for all of Tennessee’s children.

Session 4G: Sing Me A Story

Time: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: S-116

Presenter: Marie Preptit, Nashville Public Library
Session Description: We will discuss how research supports the connection between music and early literacy development. Relate how songs, activities support literacy development. Show how can these songs be used in the classroom during circle time, reading time, transition time, lunch time, diaper changing time. Book suggestions and lessons will be provided.

Marie Preptit has over a decade of experience as a teacher and administrator in early childhood education settings. Marie Preptit currently serves as the Program Coordinator for Nashville Public Library’s award-winning early literacy outreach program Bringing Books to Life. Marie coordinates day-to-day programming, partner relations, data collection, and outcome reporting. She also conducts story times, teacher trainings, and workshops for parents, all while supervising part-time outreach assistants. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and cooking. She possesses a degree in Psychology from Belmont University. She can be contacted at marie.preptit@nashville.gov.

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