Why Every Parent Should Know About NAEYC's Annual Conference
By Stephanie Morris
I remember the first time I learned about NAEYC. It was almost six years ago. The reason I know this is because Maggie, my oldest daughter who recently turned eight, was two when she was enrolled at a wonderful full-time childcare center. I remember the weather was starting to turn brisk and how as nervous first-time parents, we’d bundle her up within an inch of her life to carry her to and from the car.
I was very excited to meet her teachers and the center director, to learn about her daily routine and to find ways to volunteer and connect with other parents at the center. It was through such activity that I first learned about NAEYC’s Annual Conference.
That year it was held in Washington, DC (where I live) and Maggie’s lead teacher, Ms. Shanna, raved about her previous NAEYC conference experiences. In fact, she shared that in many respects, her entire approach to teaching and caring for children was formed as a result of the lessons and best practices she picked up having attended. It was the most obvious thing to me and to my parent friends as we heard her talk that we needed to find a way to send our teachers to that year’s conference.
Fall, of course, is the perfect season to start preparing for the holidays, so we organized a wrapping paper sale and got the word out. It was a huge success. Parents came home with loads of wrap and armed for the holidays, and most every teacher had the opportunity to attend NAEYC’s Annual Conference & Expo that year.
I recently thought about that effort and Ms. Shanna, and what a profound impact attending had on her skills and abilities as a teacher.
Today I’m not only an NAEYC member, but a mom of three (ages 3, 6 and 8) and incredibly proud to be on staff at NAEYC as Deputy Executive Director for Brand Advancement, Membership Engagement and Professional Learning. And I’m still finding ways to support my kids’ teachers in attending the Annual Conference.
This year’s conference in particular will provide an amazing and transformative experience. In particular, we are proud to host again Grandes Comienzos, Futuros Brillantes (Great Beginnings, Bright Futures), an initiative that focuses on the strengths and needs of Spanish-speaking children, families, and staff across the Americas. We will also debut Good Start, an exciting a new initiative focusing on sharing lessons and experiences of best practice in classrooms from the United States to China.
We are also incredibly excited to hear from Ruby Bridges, America’s youngest Civil Rights icon. On November 14, 1960, surrounded by armed U.S. Federal Marshals, Ruby Bridges became the very first black student to attend William Frantz Public School in New Orleans and the youngest foot soldier of the Civil Rights Movement. Ruby will discuss the impact her teacher had on her life, as well as diversity and inclusion in education and the collective impact teachers can have if they organize together.
The Annual Conference is a powerful opportunity for professional growth. I’ve seen the impact attending can have firsthand with my own kids’ teachers and I urge parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to learn more themselves and to consider organizing efforts to send your teachers, directors and childcare providers. We've even created a Funding Tool Kit to assist with fundraising efforts.
Attending the more than 500+ educational sessions and interacting with peers and experts from across the country is nothing short of an incredibly enriching experience that will have a significant impact on the growth and development of your own children.
If you wish to learn more about NAEYC or our Annual Conference, I encourage you to visit our website.
I hope I have the opportunity to meet your teachers in Orlando!
Stephanie Morris is NAEYC’s Deputy Executive Director for Brand Advancement, Membership Engagement and Professional Learning.