Sessions & Keynote

Below are just some of the sessions that will be available at this year’s EC Summit.  Be sure to check back often for full session descriptions!


Connecting Social Emotional Learning to Position Students as Mathematically Competent – Dr. Robert Berry
This session will make connections between mathematics teaching practices to social emotional learning. Specifically, the session will examine how mathematical tasks and discourse provide opportunities to engage learners in meaning discourse positioning learners as risk-takers and mathematically competent. The session will use mathematical discourse community as a framework for connecting social norms of discourse. This session will conclude with a discussion of teaching practices supportive of social emotional learning.

Innovative Practices

Champions of Change #MovementMattersSusan Flynn, College of Charleston
As teachers’ you are our Champions of Change. Children receive one 30 to 45 minutes of Physical Education per week, PE teachers cannot create physically active champions without the help of classroom teachers. Open your hearts to the importance of movement and how to be a Champion of Change. Creating an inclusive setting through movement and movement collaboration. This session will share activities to enhance critical thinking and build self-esteem through physical literacy. Handouts: Physical Literacy

Creating a Domain of Their Own For Educators and Students in Early Childhood Education – Ian O’Byrne, College of Charleston
As we consider the online and offline literacy practices that our students will need as future events warrant, the one constant is change. To prepare for this change we need a broadened, expanded view of “text” to include visual, digital, and other multimodal formats. We also must recognize text that is not only deictic, but ambiguous in nature. This requires a continual re-defining, and re-examination of our notions of text and the knowledge, skills, and dispositions utilized as we read and write. We need to consider opportunities to move learners from consumers to producers of digital content. This interconnected network of platforms, texts and tools provides opportunities to build and maintain digital identities that complement offline versions of identity. 

This presentation will identify opportunities to (a) allow participants to examine and reflect on their own digital identity construction, (b) permit participants to consider opportunities to create a “domain of one’s own” to explore identity construction and document learning, and (c) identify opportunities to document learning as individuals consume, curate, and create for these spaces. Handouts: Presentation – Becoming Literate Digitally in a Digitally Literate Environment of Their Own – Subscribe to my weekly newsletter

Experiencing the Arts – Tracey Hunter-Doniger, College of Charleston
Learn how to infuse the arts into your classroom as well as the reasons, literature, and theories as to why arts education has been proven successful in many schools across the United States.  Some examples that will be given are the “Butterfly Project” a collaboration with the College of Charleston, Cypress Gardens and Howe Hall AIMS, and Forest Kindergartens.

Innovative and Inclusive Approaches to Early Geometry and Measurement – Nenad Radakovic, College of Charleston
Geometry is about exploration of space around us and we know that children are natural born explorers. In this session, we go beyond paper and pencil activities and memorization of simple shapes to investigate the ways that we can foster children’s (PK-3) understanding of geometry and measurement. We will have a chance to explore the tasks and activities that develop students’ definitional reasoning, conceptual understanding of standard and nonstandard units, collaborations with their peers, and making connection between mathematics and the world around them. Activities include math trail, exploring geometry picture books, coloring activities, and card sort games.

Promoting Classroom Dialogue to Increase Engagement & Foster Collaborative Inquiry – Lara (Kessler) Russell, College of Charleston
Research has long confirmed that‚ “reading and writing float on a sea of talk‚” (Britton, 1983, p11 as cited in Fisher, Frey, & Rothenberg, 2008) – that student dialogue and discussion are prerequisites to engagement, literacy, and more broadly, learning (e.g., Piaget, 1932; Vygotsky, 1978; Flanders, 1970; Chapin, O’Conner, & Anderson, 2009). What remains less widely understood are the particular strategies teachers can use to facilitate and guide purposeful discussion among youngsters, how these methods can be utilized, and why they are so vital to early childhood education. In this session, participants will learn select strategies they can use to foster engaged dialogue and shared inquiry across content areas. In addition to learning about discussion-facilitating strategies, attendees will gain a deeper understanding of their importance – especially for culturally and linguistically diverse learners and those coming from low-income backgrounds.

Using Technology to Empower Student Voice in the Early Childhood Classroom – Kaelya Clark & Jessica Lucas, Charleston County School District
Have you ever wished you had the time to listen and learn alongside each of your students? By harnessing the power of technology, you can hear your students and your students can feel heard. Allowing our students to share their voice in the classroom is one of the key tenets for developing student ownership and agency. We will explore technology-rich ways for garnering student voice in the classroom and sharing learning with families. Come prepared to learn with a device (laptop, Chromebook, or iPad) and headphones.

Writing Workshop – Mary Ford Elementary & Mitchell Elementary


Brain Builders: A school -wide intervention to grow social and emotional skills for learning and motivation – Anne Gutshall, College of Charleston
Participants will learn about an inexpensive and effective way to improve teacher and student self-efficacy, academic mindset and academic perseverance in K4-3rd grade settings. Research links to improved social and emotional functioning via improvements in these non cognitive belief areas will be shared.

I Like You, There’s No Doubt About It! – Dr. Jean Feldman
Early childhood educators have always been committed to the WHOLE child. We know that a positive self-concept, self-regulation, and knowing how to get along with others is critical for students today and in the future. In this session you’ll learn strategies that will promote personal and social well-being, as you nurture academic standards.  Highlights of this workshop include: Activities to help children develop self-confidence • Songs and cheers to create a classroom family • Techniques to encourage self-regulation • Partner projects to develop social relations • Games and ideas for small group learning. Handouts: I Like you There’s No Doubt About It!

Mindfulness for Teachers – Hanna Attafi, College of Charleston
The overall goal of this session is to define, teach and promote mindfulness exercises as a source of research-based stress reduction and (mental and physical) wellness for teachers. Upon completion of the session, teachers will be able to briefly define mindfulness and walk away from the workshop with several mindfulness exercises to integrate immediately into their daily routines.

Second Step ~ Social-Emotional Learning Beyond the Lesson – Keri Baker & Heather Anderson, Charleston County School District
With the growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of social-emotional learning, educators are seeking ways to embed social-emotional learning in daily routines and experiences. This interactive session will provide an overview of Second Step, an evidence based social-emotional curriculum, and offer participants practical strategies to embed and integrate social-emotional lessons and strategies across daily routines. Participants will have opportunity to idea-share with other participants and will leave with tools to support social-emotional learning.  HandoutsSocial and Emotional LearningEarly Learning Second Step

Encountering Mental Health Issues in Youth – Vanessa Brown
Participants will gain awareness of the prevalence of mental illness among young people and gain information about signs and symptoms of some common mental health disorders. Participants will gain knowledge about how to interact with youth experiencing mental health challenges.  Handouts: Issues in Youth Mental Health


Character Traits of Leaders in Early Childhood Environments – Samantha Janicki & Sherrie Dueno, South Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Network
Exceptional leaders are those who possess specific character traits that promote equity and diversity in early childhood environments including awareness of their own biases and prejudices. These character traits provide meaningful interactions and positive impact among children, families and staff. Join this session for an honest discussion and self-reflection on your existing character traits that affect others ability to provide quality learning experiences for children.

Harmonizing Cultural Diversity – Lydia Carnesale
The content of this training will assist leaders recognize and understand cultural and linguistic differences in very young children and their families. Leaders will be able take away strategies to develop effective ways to ensure that their programs are building bridges and using best practices when serving diverse populations.  Leaders will be able to define culturally responsive care. Leaders will be able to recognize 4 skills needed for their caregivers to be a culturally responsive teacher.  Leaders will identify strategies in creating a culturally responsive environment.

Leadership – Kenneth Joyner & Raymond Nelson III, Boys With A Purpose
The content of this training will help to develop strong leaders both in and outside of the classroom. Engaging strategies and techniques will help to develop and maintain great relationships both with teacher and students. Real life strategies will help grow you as a leader and help to create a better classroom or work environment.

Oh, the Things You Should Know! – Camille Hendrix, CFDC
In this session, key strategies for leading an Early Childhood Center will be explored. The Center is a multifaceted program including Head Start, Early Head Start, Child Development, and Family Literacy along with a GED program for parents.

Spider Sense Leadership: The Link Between Effective Leadership, Engaging Relationships, and Classroom Culture – Craig King
This Spider Sense Leadership session shows participants how to tap into their own personal Spider-Sense to improve their effectiveness within their profession and community. The areas of focus are leadership, relationship building, and classroom culture. Spider-Sense Leadership is about your response to various situations that arise in the workplace and community. Spider-Sense Leadership has an intentional focus on the attribute of enthusiasm and its role in engaging children and families in education.

Engaging Families

Family Engagement through an Equity Lense – LaTisha Vaughn-Brandon, College of Charleston
Although educators recognize the importance of family/parental involvement in the education of all children, many schools, administrators, and teachers still struggle to develop comprehensive plans for meaningful, sustained, positive relationships with families, specifically families of color.  This presentation will provide opportunities for discussion about the historical context and reasons for the disconnect between families of color and schools in the Charleston area as well as examples of best practices which are bridging the school/parent divide.

The Power of a Child’s Voice: Building the home-school community – Ryan Stone, Mary White, & Katie Houser, Early Childhood Development Center
This session will focus on the importance of documenting and sharing children’s stories with various stakeholder to build community. Goals for the session include recognizing the child’s innate desire to tell and write their own stories, ways to document a child’s story, and the benefits of sharing a student’s voice with family and friends. Participants will learn more about the stages of storytelling and their relationship to the development of each child’s voice. This session will share ways this information can be used to inform best practices in teaching and build communication with families. Session outcomes will focus on the role of risk-taking in sharing one’s narratives with others, while at the same time building learner resiliency and engagement as young writers in a community establish their voice.

PASOs Connections for Child Development- Engaging Latino Families to access Early Childhood resources – Virginia Vedilago, PASOs
PASOs meaning “steps,” is a statewide nonprofit organization locally affiliated with the Medical University of South Carolina. PASOs works to engage Latino families with culturally and linguistically appropriate health information and resources in order to decrease disparities. PASOs recruits, hires and trains Community Health Workers (CHW) to provide health education and assistance with the navigation of resources. In the PASOs Connections for Child Development program, PASOs CHWs engage with families in home visits to screen the development of their children under five years old using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) tool.

In this session, participants will address the following learning objectives:

1. Analyze data related to Latino birthrates and population demographic changes in South Carolina and in the Tri-County area
2. Discuss the role of Community Health Workers as natural community leaders who are uniquely prepared to help families successfully and meaningfully access Early Intervention and Education services.
3. Consider a culturally-competent model for developmental surveillance to promote healthy development, meaningful connection to resources and kindergarten-readiness
4. Learn how PASOs Community Health Workers engage families in self-advocacy to promote future confidence in the navigation of health and social service systems
5. Examine outcomes of the PASOs Connections for Child Development program
6. Ask questions about family engagement in the PASOs Connections for Child Development model

Cultural Competency: Theory and Practice in Early Childhood Literacy – Deborah Jones Wheeler, Charleston County Public Library
Cultural competence and literacy education involves strengthening an understanding of what constitutes diversity, why it’s important that we engage with multicultural literacy, how to create and practice inclusive behaviors, and how to combat implicit bias. Understanding these principles can help educators to create an inclusive classroom that extends beyond their walls, and creates engagement with families and communities. Library best practices will be used to present examples of thoughtful and open text selection and programming. Discussions will revolve around cultural education myths, and approaches to cultural literacy education. Helpful library and online resources as well as reflection and evaluation tools for inclusive classrooms will also be reviewed. Handouts: Cultural Competency Presentation

The Special Sauce: Creativity + Innovation to Increase Family Engagement – Robin Berlinsky, College of Charleston
Family engagement plays a critical role in our work as educators and many schools struggle to get (and keep) parents’ attention. Early childhood is the ideal time to build a strong foundation that supports positive school/home relationships. This session will explore creative ways to engage families; going beyond PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences. Participants will understand the importance of arts integration (creativity & innovation) as a tool for engaging families and how the three key ingredients of our Special Sauce led us to this national award.



updated: 05/17/18