This past Thursday, Friday and Saturday we were blessed to be able to take many of our staff to the North Carolina Association of Educators of Young Children annual conference which was held in Raleigh. We always gain so much when we are able to attend this event. We have the opportunity to choose from over two hundred different workshops, and to hear nationally recognized speakers. With approximately 1,000 educators attending, we get to meet and talk with many people from all over North Carolina who work with and care about young children, just as we do. As well as hearing new ideas, it is also affirming to speak with people who share our beliefs about the best ways to help children learn. Although the days are long, we come back energized and excited to put what we have learned into practice.
The price tag for this great experience is pretty steep. In order to get the “early bird” registration fee, we had to register in July, and in July some of our classes weren’t filled, so we weren’t sure how many of our staff we could afford to take. The conference offers a reduction in price for participants who are willing to donate three hours of their time as volunteers. We had three staff members who on their own initiative signed up as volunteers in order to save our program part of the cost for them to attend the conference. What a strong statement that makes about how much these staff members value the opportunity to continue learning, and how much they care about Front Street Playschool! This just reinforces my belief that we have the very best staff to be found anywhere.
You may also be interested to know that Marna Winter and I were presenters at the conference. Our topic was inquiry-based learning. Last school year we gave a workshop to our staff on this topic and later in the school year, worked with Ellen Boyles, a young lady from Elon University, to incorporate this type of learning into the curriculum in some of our classrooms. As part of our conference presentation, we were able to share what we learned from that experience with the participants in our workshop.
Someone once told me that the best way to influence children is to be what you want them to be. One of our goals for children is for them to be lifelong learners, so how appropriate it is that we model that by continuing to be learners ourselves!