read to succeed professional development

Please contact Elandriel Lewis with any questions.

For information on upcoming webinars, click here.

View Read to Succeed’s 2020 training summary here.

View Read to Succeed’s Family Webinar Series here.

Read to Succeed Professional Development is designed to increase equity of access to high-quality professional development for early childhood professionals and caregivers. We offer two types of trainings: weekly webinars and individual sessions. 

Weekly Webinar Series

These weekly early childhood webinars occur live on Tuesdays at noon CST via Zoom. All sessions are eligible for Tennessee Department of Human Services credit certificate. Certificates are provided after viewing the webinar and completing a reflection form via the unique Google Form link for each webinar.

Recordings of these webinars are moving to a new platform for a better user experience. Currently some are located here and some are on the new platform. The new site is still free to use but will require you to register. View our calendar of upcoming webinars.

6/21/2022: Water, Wind, and Weather: Engaging Infants and Toddlers in Outdoor Spaces | Presenter: Jessica Yuill

Join Jessica Yuill from the National Wildlife Federation’s ECHO program as she presents “Water, Wind, and Weather: Engaging Infants and Toddlers in Outdoor Spaces.” Our youngest learners are natural scientists. They crave opportunities for exploration and discovery. However, did you know that many outdoor activities for infants and toddlers also promote critical physical development? Join us as we explore positive and engaging ways to support infant and toddler growth and development through outdoor settings. We will explore how to create a safe and welcoming outdoor space for young children and engage in hands-on activities you can take back to your program.

1 hour of TN DHS credit is available upon completion of a reflection form/quiz.

About the Presenter: Jessica Yuill is the Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) senior outreach coordinator at the National Wildlife Federation. She works every day to elevate the early childhood field and to ensure all young children have access to high-quality outdoor environments. Jessica works directly with early childhood professionals by facilitating trainings on outdoor play and family engagement and providing continuous support for all ECHO child care sites in their journey to embracing outdoor play. Jessica supports ECHO and their sites by providing expertise on engaging families in the early childhood years.

ECHO is transforming how young children play and learn outdoors for the benefit of our kids, our communities and our planet. ECHO facilitates the creation of nature-based outdoor play settings; provides support and resources for families, organizations and educators to activate these spaces; and advocates for policies to transform outdoor play and learning best practice into common practice. Equity is at the core of this work, as we collaborate with and support local community initiatives to transform the spaces used by young children and their caregivers. We focus intentionally on reaching young children who may not otherwise have access to high-quality outdoor settings, families living with low-incomes and marginalized communities who face multiple barriers to health and equity. All of ECHO’s work includes a tailored, community-driven process designed to complement local efforts and bring the vision of all stakeholders to life.

6/14/2022: 8 Strategies That Help: Positive Behavior Management Strategies for Challenging Behaviors | Presenter: Ashley Jasinski

Join Ashley Jasinski of the Regional Intervention Program (RIP) as she presents “8 Strategies That Help: Positive Behavior Management Strategies for Challenging Behaviors.” Challenging behaviors can take many forms and pop up for many reasons. Parents, teachers and others who engage with children know how challenging behaviors can directly impact our relationship and success with the children we care for. In this session, we’ll examine the theory about why behavior occurs and discuss eight tried-and-true strategies that help to prevent challenging behavior. Presenters will provide the audience with RIP’s 8 Strategies That Help, eight positive behavior management strategies, and discuss creative ways we can individualize them to meet the needs of all children in our care.

This session is a part of our conscious discipline and social-emotional learning series and is appropriate for teachers, instructional coaches, leadership and caregivers of children of all ages.

1 hour of TN DHS credit is available upon completion of a reflection form/quiz.

About the Presenter: Ashley Jasinski is the technical assistance and expansion coordinator for the Regional Intervention Program (RIP) at the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. RIP is a positive parenting program for families with children under the age of six with behavioral concerns. Ashley has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in early childhood development and learning and a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with a dual specialization in early child populations and childhood abuse and trauma. Ashley has more than 20 years of experience working with behaviors and the early childhood populations through her role as a counselor, preschool teacher, ABA line therapist, early childhood programming coordinator and RIP program coordinator at a Tennessee RIP site. Ashley loves helping empower families and educate community members through training on impact of ACEs, positive behavior management tips and techniques and social-emotional learning. Besides her passion for early childhood populations and empowering families, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

The Regional Intervention Program is a parent-implemented, professionally-supported program for young children and their families who are experiencing challenging behaviors. RIP has been serving families with young children since 1969. This unique, internationally-recognized program guides parents in learning the skills to work directly with their own children while they receive training and support from experienced RIP families.

“When we didn’t know what to do next, RIP gave us a plan, a guide. Not only has RIP helped us now, but it’s given [us] a grasp on strategies our family needs for life.” — RIP parent/graduate

Regional Intervention Program mission: Empowering parents and caregivers with the confidence that they have the tools to address their children’s behavior through a model-based approach, individualized to each family.

6/7/2022: Leadership through Emotional Intelligence, part 3: Assertiveness | Presenter: Elandriel Lewis

Join Elandriel Lewis of United Way of Greater Nashville as she presents “Leading with Emotional Intelligence: Attention & Assertiveness (Part 3).” Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your emotions as well as being able to recognize and navigate around the emotions of others. This series will provide a deep dive into the emotional intelligence skills needed to support a healthy and productive organizational culture. Session three explores how assertiveness is the key to setting effective and respectful limits with others and is determined by how we focus our attention. This session will provide information and strategies to support attention and assertiveness in your organization. 1.5 hours of TN DHS credit is available upon completion of a reflection form/quiz.

About the Presenter: Elandriel Lewis is the senior manager of early learning and training at United Way of Greater Nashville where she works with community early childhood teachers and leaders to ensure lifelong educational and personal success for children and families. Elandriel believes that every child deserves safe, stable, nurturing relationships and time outdoors to support academic and social-emotional growth.

5/24/2022: S.T.E.A.M. and Literacy | Presenter: Marie Preptit

Join Marie Preptit from Nashville Public Library’s Bringing Books to Life! as she presents “S.T.E.A.M. and Literacy.” Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (S.T.E.A.M.) are important in the educational world for teaching critical thinking skills. This workshop will provide you with experiments and books to get students problem solving.

This session is appropriate for teachers, instructional coaches, leadership and caregivers of children of all ages. One hour of TN DHS credit is available upon completion of a reflection form/quiz.

About the Presenter: Marie Preptit serves as the program coordinator for Nashville Public Library’s Bringing Books to Life. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Spanish from Belmont University. Marie coordinates day-to-day programming, partner relations, data collection and outcome reporting. She also conducts story times, teacher training and workshops for parents, all while supervising part-time outreach assistants. She brings to the program experience as a preschool teacher as well as a preschool administrator.

Click here to view previous webinars in the archives.

Early Childhood Vid-Con

The 2021 Read to Succeed Early Childhood VidCon!–”Partnering with Families to Support Child Success”–featured early childhood professionals presenting seminars on academic success and well-being. All sessions are eligible for Tennessee Department of Human Services credit certificate. Certificates are provided after viewing the webinar and completing a reflection form via the unique Google Form link for each webinar.


Read to Succeed is proud to bring you Dr. Elmida Baghdaserians, Dr. Alma Cortes, and Kisha Champion as they present and extended version of their session,”I’m not colorblind, are you?” This presentation focuses on accepting, including, and valuing our differences. The approach for this important work entails open and honest communication, education and strategies on how to be inclusive.

Download presentation here.

About the Presenters:

Dr. Elmida Baghdaserians attended Glendale Community College where she discovered her love for child development. After transferring to Pacific Oaks College and receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development (with a specialization in Early Childhood Education), she transferred to Loyola Marymount University where she earned a master’s degree in Educational Counseling. Over the years Dr. Baghdaserians has also earned her doctorate at Pepperdine University, from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology in Organizational Leadership, her research focus was on parenting and cultural issues.

Dr. Alma Cortes has worked in the field of early childhood as a classroom teacher, administrator, and university professor for the last 20 years. A native Texan, Alma earned her master’s degree in early childhood education from Bank Street College of Education in New York City and her BA in English and Spanish from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UCLA. Since 2009, Alma has actively pursued her passion for academia and has taught at various institutions including University of California, Los Angeles, California State University Northridge, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles Valley College and Pacific Oaks. She currently teaches at Pierce College as a full time faculty member in the Child Development Department. Her research interests include studying childcare in underserved communities, professionalizing the ECE work force, and anti-racist teaching for young children.

Kisha Williamson-Champion earned her M.S. in Child Development from the University of La Verne. She is a community college professor in California, and is an active member of Partnership for Education, Articulation and Collaboration in Higher Education (PEACH) where she serves as co-lead for the Equity and Anti-Racist Ad-hoc Group and partner in the Early Childhood Education Credential Workgroup.


Increasing levels of parent engagement is essential during these difficult times as a result of social separation from family and friends. Participants in this session will: gain strategies to effectively engage school communities and parents in thinking and learning improvements for their children, engage in interactive, practical, and focused activities that build on how we think and learn using brain-based SEL activities, and help young children develop social and emotional responsibility. 

Download presentation here

About the Presenter:

Dr. Hector Montenegro, President/CEO of Montenegro Consulting Group, LLC, is currently Senior District Advisor for the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and works with districts and administrators nationally and internationally on systemic implementation of SEL. He provides training on instructional strategies for ELLs, leadership development for administrators, language and literacy, instructional coaching, and parent engagement. He also serves on several national boards including the Board Chair and Sr. Advisor for Leadership Development for Transformative Educational Leadership (TEL), New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA) and the Parent-Teacher Home Visits (PTHV).

Dr. Montenegro is an internationally recognized keynote and motivational speaker and has been an education advisor in Chile, Peru and Saudi Arabia through the US Embassies and Ministries of Education. In addition, he serves as a volunteer for the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation working on projects in Brazil, El Salvador and Uganda.

Dr. Hector Montenegro has been a math teacher in California, a principal a Chief of Staff for the DC Public Schools and Superintendent of Schools for three school districts in Texas. He obtained his Master’s degree from Stanford University and Doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.


The development of Language and Literacy are key foundations for social and emotional development, reading achievement, cognitive development, and overall school success. Suggestions for engaging families and community partnerships to enhance center or school literacy instruction will be highlighted.This session will review key skills and dispositions of early language and literacy development needed by all children, and specifically those that may be at risk of falling behind.

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About the Presenter:

Dr. Trejo has a long career as teacher, administrator, and advocate for children and communities. She has worked with early childhood and preschool educators and programs for the last 20 years. She is a national and international consultant and coach in the areas of literacy, mathematics, and program implementation Pre-K to university. Her unique expertise has been working with struggling readers, under performing students, and communities.

Maria had a long career with the California State Department of Education implementing educational policies, supporting program initiatives, and securing resources. She was a principal contributor to the development of Early Childhood Curriculum Frameworks for the state of California.


Partnering with families is essential to the success of the children in our care. In this session, participants will learn strategies on how to engage families right from the start. We will explore ways of establishing relationships with families, and understand the barriers to family engagement and learn strategies to overcome barriers.

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About the Presenter:

Iris Corral, M.Ed., is the Leadership Training Specialist for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University. In this role, Iris conducts training for the leadership academies, the Business Administration Scale for Family Child Care (BAS), and the Program Administration Scale (PAS). Iris spent eight years working as a preschool director in a Preschool for All (PFA) program in Illinois. She also worked for a Child Care program in Chicago for eleven years as a teacher and the parent support/health coordinator.

SESSION 4: being intentional about culturally responsive family engagement | Presenters: dr. ebonyese mead and dr. jen neitzel

The goal of this presentation is to provide knowledge and an understanding about culturally responsive family engagement practices. Participants also will be provided with a variety of strategies to engage families from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Download presentation here

About the Presenters:

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.

Dr. Ebonyse Mead is the Birth to Kindergarten Clinical Instructor at Georgia Southern University and president of the Educational Equity Institute. For 18 years, Ebonyse has worked in communities to improve health and educational outcomes for children of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Since 2016, Ebonyse has provided statewide training on diversity, inclusion and equity with a particular focus on examining structural barriers to educational equity, implicit racial bias, and culturally responsive instruction to the early childhood workforce in North Carolina.

The Educational Equity Institute’s vision is to build just and equitable communities who collectively work towards lasting change. The mission of the Educational Equity Institute is to facilitate authentic engagement and relationships that empower communities to guide the work of systems change.


This community panel conversation focuses on the power and value of partnerships between schools and families to ensure child success.

About the Facilitator:

Elandriel Lewis is the Manager of Early Learning and Training for the United Way of Greater Nashville where she works with community early childhood teachers and leaders to ensure lifelong educational and personal success for children and families. Elandriel believes that every child deserves safe, stable, nurturing relationships and time outdoors to support academic and social-emotional growth.

SESSION 6: reinventing risk - Encouraging risky play through family partnerships | presenter: misha davydov

Children consciously and subconsciously internalize the behaviors of those around them. In our society which largely trivializes play and stigmatizes risk, it is easy for children and adults to get the impression that sedentary activity is the best activity. Now more than ever, it is imperative that adults show children the power and importance of risky play by example. This goal requires an understanding of play as a vital human behavior, a reframing of our mindset surrounding risk and danger, and a willingness to become the catalyst for controlled risk.

Download presentation here. Download supplemental materials here.

About the Presenter:

After spending two years teaching kindergarten and elementary school in Japan, Misha moved to Nashville and joined A New Leaf. His work with the Musoan Nature Partnership cultivated in him a love of fishing, farming, building, exploring, and cooking gourmet meals in the great outdoors. He strives to inspire wonder and appreciation for nature in his students. Misha believes that for true learning to occur, instructors and students must both learn and teach together, so the Reggio Emilia approach is a great fit for him. He also firmly believes that nature isn’t a museum of dead things – the Great Outdoors provide the ideal context to engage all of the senses, especially touch, smell, and taste. In his spare time, Misha loves to cook, build toys, translate literature and poetry, and beatbox. Misha has a Masters of Education with a dual specialization in early childhood education and environmental education. He has a curious, strong-willed 4-year-old daughter named Yvie. Misha speaks English, Russian, and Japanese.

SESSION 7: whole brain parent partners | presenter: frank jemison

This session focuses on whole brain strategies that parents can use to support the social and emotional development of their children. In this session, participants will learn four easy lessons they can share with parents, as well as principles of how best to communicate that information. We will learn how to teach parents (1) the hand model of the brain, (2) the importance of “serve and return” interactions, (3) the mindset of “behavior as communication”, and (4) strategies for helping their children regulate emotions. Educators can use these lessons to teach parents how to support the healthy functioning and development of their children’s brains. These lessons can equip parents to be better partners in emotionally healthy, whole brain development.

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About the Presenter:

Frank Jemison is the founder of ACCESS Consulting. Before founding ACCESS, Frank served as Director of Education Outreach for the ACE Awareness Foundation where he promoted trauma-informed solutions for students, teachers, and schools. He previously worked for seven years in urban elementary schools in Memphis as a teacher, instructional coach, and administrator. Frank received a Master’s in Urban Education through the Memphis Teacher Residency and his BA from Duke University.

SESSION 8: using parent assets to support children's literacy development | presenter: klem-mari cajigas

Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. As such, they are in the best position to positively affect their children’s literacy development. In this workshop, we discuss how to highlight and deploy parents’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds as assets in their children’s literacy development.

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About the Presenter:

Klem-Marí Cajigas has been with Nashville Public Library since 2012, after more than a decade of academic training in Religious Studies and Ministry, including doctoral work at Vanderbilt University. As the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life!, Nashville Public Library’s award-winning early literacy outreach program, she delivers family literacy workshops to a diverse range of local communities. Born in Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí is bilingual, bicultural, and proudly Boricua.

SESSION 9: building community and family partnerships through engagement strategies and cultural intelligence | presenter: ALIA GABRES

This session focuses on two main components of successful engagement. The session begins with an overview of relevant philosophies of community engagement and how or why they might be used in the development of successful family partnership development. The latter half of the session focuses on the practicalities of partnership development and community engagement through the lens of project management. Webinar participants will walk away feeling informed and empowered on how they may build on their successes or better engage with their blind spots in community and family partnerships.

Download presentation here

About the Presenter:

Alia Gabres is a Programs Director, Engagement Specialist, Cultural Broker and Storyteller. She has worked with creative and diverse communities globally over the span of 10 years in various roles such as Program Director and Lead Creative Producer for Industry and Creative Initiatives. Her work has been impactful in various institutions and organizations including non-profits, local governments and start-ups. Alia has a Masters in Community and Cultural Development from the University of Melbourne. She is the Author of the recently published children’s book series “Haboba’s House”; as well as “Intersectionality in the Arts” chapter in the 2019 published text ‘The Relationship Is the Project”.

Virtual Individual Sessions

These customizable sessions are designed to meet partner needs. Individual trainings can be scheduled by contacting:

Elandriel Lewis
Senior Manager, Early Learning and Training

Read to Succeed’s Professional Development program covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Social-Emotional Learning and Trauma-Informed Practices, including Skills for the Classroom
    and the Workplace
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Instructional Coaching
  • Outdoor Learning, Play and Emergent Curriculum
  • Developmentally Appropriate Academic Best Practices
  • Curriculum and Assessment Specific Training (Frog Street Curriculum, Conscious Discipline
    Curriculum and Teaching Strategies GOLD Assessment)