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Keynote Sessions

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What if Today Was Their Only Day?

Conference Keynote presented by Lisa Murphy

 In  this  motivational  keynote  address  Lisa  shares  the  powerful  story  of  her  first  day  of  school.    Through  active  and engaging  storytelling  Lisa  brings  you  back  to  her  first  day,  taking  you  on  a  grand  tour  of  Miss  Mary’s  Nursery School.    And,  in  the  style  she  has  become  famous  for,  she  shares  many  observations,  lessons  and  anecdotes  about how  early  childhood  has  changed  along  the  way.    Lisa  will  share  the  sights  sounds  and  smells  of  the  place  where,  at the  young  age  of  three,  she  decided  to  become  a  teacher  and  identifies  the  how,  and  why,  that  one  day  solidified  her decision  to  become  an  educator.    This  inspiring  keynote  gets  participants  back  in  touch  with  their  personal  how  and why.    It  gets  them  excited  and  gets  them  thinking:    If  it  WAS  their  only  day,  what  will  they  remember?

About Lisa Murphy:  

Lisa Murphy has been involved with early childhood education for over 20 years; teaching and working with children in various environments including Head Start, kindergarten, private preschools, family childcare, park and rec centers, group homes and many child care centers.

Lisa is the founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc. where her mission is to assist in the transformation of the industry of early childhood education by offering 1) the best workshops and trainings; 2) the most up to date materials and resources; and 3) insightful conversations and connections through the power of social media.  Lisa presents hundreds of workshops each year to both domestic and international audiences on various topics related to early childhood education.

Lisa has an M.Ed. in early childhood education from Champlain College in Vermont.  She has authored four books, produced dozens of teacher training DVD’s and is a popular keynote speaker at educational conferences.  Lisa’s standing room only seminars have become nationally known for their information, humor, inspiration and energetic delivery.  Frequently asked if she has ever been a stand up comic, Lisa practices what she preaches by blending the learning with the laughing.

Lisa collaborates with Jeff Johnson from Explorations Early Learning on various projects related to early childhood education, including hosting an annual UNConference and producing THE CHILD CARE BAR AND GRILL podcast – which releases two episodes a week to listeners around the globe. Lisa has become known for her ability to link hands-on activities to educational standards, her outspoken advocacy, and her commitment to creating child-centered, play-based early childhood environments. Her understanding of the importance of play is obvious in her personal and professional life.

Navigating the Deep Waters of Social Justice Teaching

Administrative Keynote presented by Nadia Jaboneta

Nadia Jaboneta will share the story of her social justice journey as she partners with families and colleagues to explore race and cultural identity. She will share the self-work, critical thinking and process that goes into social justice education. 


“We are all alike. We all live on this earth together. We are all different. We help make the earth a better place in different ways.” 5 year-old 
Key ideas explored: 

  • Understanding the critical thinking and collaborative planning process that goes into social justice education

  • Exploring how children learn about identity and appreciate difference

  • Learning the strength that comes from courageous and vulnerable teaching

About Nadia Jaboneta

Nadia Jaboneta lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and 3 children. She is a Pedagogical Leader at Pacific Primary preschool in San Francisco, California. She has 24 years experience in Early Childhood Education teaching young children, training teachers, consulting and facilitating workshops. She is passionate about social justice and is proud to have immigrant parents from Lima, Peru. Nadia attended San Francisco State University for both her Bachelor's and Master's degree. She has written numerous articles for the magazine Teaching Young Children, focused on the anti-bias education practices she uses. She also is the author of two books, one entitled “You Can’t Celebrate That: Navigating the Deep Waters of Social Justice Teaching” and “Children’s Lively Minds: Schema Theory Made Visible".


Administrator Sessions

From Recruiting to Retention - Attracting Staff That Will Stay

Presented by Beth Cannon

New employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with your program and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team. You’ll need to cover all the necessary steps to prepare for onboarding a new employee and guide them through the process of becoming part of a successful team, and this workshop will give you step by step strategies. (60 min)

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Being the Best Education Consultant in Challenging Times

Presented by Mary Stone and Lori Blake

As an Educational Consultant, your support and collaborative relationship with early childhood administrators is an important component of quality.  Having a network of support can be a critical element to your success and enjoyment as an educational consultant. This session will be the kick-off to a series of quarterly opportunities for educational consultants to meet in a supportive environment to discuss and collaborate on the challenges and best practices when working with programs.  Participants will identify topics for future sessions,  be provided with important updates on the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood initiatives, and have opportunities to connect with fellow consultants. 

Three Principles of High Impact Leadership

Presented by Michael King

Leaders are caged, they are not tamed. Every individual

can lead effectively - what principles must they utilize

to do so?  (90 min)

Workshop Attendees will leave with:

  • An understanding of what it means to embrace &       utilize responsibility as a leadership practice.

  • A process to develop practices of self reflection                and feedback in the context of leadership growth. 

  • A frame for investing in the leadership of everyone around them.

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Leader Role in Managing Challenging Behaviors

Presented by Prerna Richards

Many leaders of childcare centers are facing teacher turnover, and burnout due to increased challenging behaviors and stress in the early childhood programs. In this session, we will look at 5 factors that can help reduce the behaviors and reduce the levels of stress.   (90 min)

How to Optimize Working with your Educational Consultant

Presented by Mary Stone and Lori Blake

Utilizing your educational consultant can be valuable for your program! This session is focused on creating and building the important collaborative relationship between the early childhood administrative team and their educational consultant. Participants will explore  “look fors” when working with your consultant, ideas for ways to build relationships,  and discuss the possible areas of support.  Given the complexities of supporting high quality learning experiences, as well managing program needs, the support of your consultant in managing a program is so important.

Effective Social Media Marketing Strategies

for the Child Care Industry

Presented by AJ

New employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with your program and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team. You’ll need to cover all the necessary steps to prepare for onboarding a new employee and guide them through the process of becoming part of a successful team, and this workshop will give you step by step strategies. (90 min)

After attending this training, the participants will know:

  • Most effective Social Media platforms for the child care industry

  • Best practices for using Facebook

  • How to schedule facebook posts according to their desired cadence and theme..

  • What is “SEO”

  • How to advertise on Google and Facebook

  • Explain what is a responsive website or email

  • What’s the best strategy for Yelp reviews

  • How to email like a pro

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Educator Sessions


Love and Resilience

Presented by Rachel Giannini

We are all experiential learners, and in a time unlike any other, we've all learned a lot! In this keynote, we reflect on the love, resilience, and little wins that help us through every day!  (60 min)

About Rachel: 

Rachel Giannini is a childhood specialist, an early childhood advocate, and a video blog host. She currently splits her time as a public speaker, early childhood commentator, curriculum designer, and the star of Spy School on Hellosaurus. 

Rachel’s writing, expertise, and videos have appeared in Vox, The New York Times, Too Small To Fail, HuffPost, Child Care Exchange, and Chicago Parent. In addition, Rachel has an MFA in Museum Education from the University of Illinois and is a volunteer hospital magician for Open Heart Magic. 

Equity for Autistic Learners

Presented by Jona Jeffcoat 

Equity, rather than equality, is essential in developing and implementing a child-centered learning environment, especially when working with Autistic children. We will explore sensory strategies, viewing behavior through the lens of communication, and considerations for staff-family communications within this population.  (90 min)

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Revamping Nursery Rhymes

Presented by Jona Jeffcoat


Repetition for children is an essential learning strategy. Repurposing familiar children’s songs to encourage executive functioning, communication, and social skills will be explored in this workshop.  Live and digital approaches will be discussed. (90 min)

The Resilience Factors; You've Got This!

Presented by Meg Formica, MEd. and Lisa Backus, Ph.D, LP

We can't control what has happened outside of the classroom but some of the things we do naturally help children and families develop resilience.  We have all worked hard to maintain connection with families during Covid-19. Did you know that when you shared information with families about fun things to do in the neighborhood-e.g. ice skating in the park- you were helping them build their relationship and building resilience?  Did you teach some breathing techniques to children and send home the YOGA picture poses? A new skill - another resilience factor.  How about the coat drive or job fair, food bank you volunteered at- you helped reduce stress for families- another resilience factor.  Come share your ideas,  experiences and expand your tool box to build resilience one child and one family at a time.  (90 min)

Enhancing Social Language Skills for Positive Social Intereactions with Diverse Communicators

Presented by Amy Anderson Moncy

Early language learners need considerable support to use their language appropriately in social situations.  Come and explore strategies and techniques that support social communication (e.g., what to say, how to say it and when to say it) in social interactions of diverse communication partners in daily activities and routines. (60 min)

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Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) with an Equity Lens

Presented by Prerna Richards

We all know that DAP practices provide optimal growth and development for children but without equity in place all children cannot thrive. We’ll introduce practical, effective, and easy adjustments to intentionally implement in classrooms and programs making them more inclusive and equitable for all children.  The early years form the sense of self-identity which is critical for children's ability to be active learners. Educators who are culturally, linguistically, and equitably trained can provide the best foundation for young children.  (60 min)

Scaffolding Infant/Toddler Learning & Development through Play

Presented by Dr. Douglas Bell

Participants in this session will explore a teaching framework that ensures infants and toddlers reach learning goals through developmentally appropriate play and exploratory based experiences. (90 min)

Workshop Goals:

  • participants will differentiate teaching through play and observing play

  • participants will match levels of scaffolding with scaffolding practices

  • participants will develop appropriate scaffolds to a play based teaching experience for infants and toddlers

Pyramid Model: A Framework for Social Emotional Learning for Young Children

Presented by Lisa Swain

This session is designed for Administrators.  The Pyramid Model is a framework of evidence-based practices for promoting young children’s healthy social and emotional development and is aligned with the CT ELDS and the CT CKCs. The Pyramid Model provides guidance and resources for early educators, families, early intervention personnel and other professionals.  Implementing the Pyramid Model and achieving positive outcomes for children and their families is optimized when administrators understand the framework and implementation process. This session will give an overview of the resources and opportunities available to programs interested in Pyramid Model Implementation and support.

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Developing Healthy Boys;  An overview of our full day training.

Presented by Tom Weiner

The Developing Healthy Boys workshop promotes understanding of ways that masculinity norms and stereotypes impact boys, and the adult's role in positively supporting healthy gender development. The workshop will be participatory, with a mix of presentation, activities and discussions.   (90 min)

It Really IS All in Your Head:  The Three Parts of the Brain and Their Impact on Behavior

Presented by Tracy Cheney

This training will first assist attendees in reflecting on their own triggers (hot button behaviors) to determine how to more beneficially respond when those occur. Second, we will learn about the brain's top priority ensuring safety and how that impacts our reactions to people and events. Third, we will discuss the three parts of the triune brain, their functions and what strategies we can use in the classroom.  (90 min)

Supporting Children with Social Anxiety

Presented by Justyna Balzar

In this workshop, participants learn to recognize and define social anxiety in young learners.  Through engaging, hands-on activities, participants will practice applying evidence-based strategies to support children through moments of social anxiety and learn how to collect data to determine if the interventions they are using are effective.   (60 min - will be recorded)

Trauma Informed Practice for All Young Children

Presented by Bailey Woods

Working with children who have experienced trauma is a prevalent issue in many early care settings. Many caregivers are not prepared to deal with this appropriately, and many directors/managers are unsure to organize structures to support children and teachers. Learning strategies such as building protective factors, strong relationships, social and emotional skills, and implementing whole school supports will guide all involved to improve their practices and environment.   (60 min)

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The "Why" Behind Behavior: Quick Wins For Overcoming Behavioral Barriers with Young Learners

Presented by Justyna Balzar

In this workshop, participants learn to navigate challenging behaviors by understanding the four functions.  Participants will then use child-specific data to determine the "why" behind individual behavioral barriers.  From there, we will discuss "quick wins" early childhood educators can use to effectively and efficiently support young learners.    (60 min - will be recorded))


Engaging CT Families with Sparkler

Presented by Julia Levy

Spark children's early growth and learning with Sparkler! Learn how your program can use Sparkler, an evidence-based, mobile family engagement platform — now being provided statewide by the CT Office of Early Childhood — to engage families, offer developmental screening, support ongoing play and development, and build connections that foster healthy early childhood development. The interactive session will help you learn about Sparkler and provide insights from fellow CT providers to learn how to implement this program within your program.  (60 min)

Conference Schedule

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