Why do we host the VAHSA Annual Conference?
VAHSA’s annual conference is our largest attended conference, typically with 500 people, serving in all roles in Head Start. This signature conference focuses on bringing our community a fun and engaging learning experience to support all Head Start service areas. From Head Start parents on Policy Council, to instructional staff, to family service workers, to mental health and health professionals, to finance and human resources roles, to directors and all leadership staff; our annual conference provides an interactive, hands-on learning approach, surely for all Head Start staff. Our time together is also rich with networking opportunities and discussion and is looked forward to every year.
A 2.5 day institute providing the following learning formats:
In-person at Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel, VA
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Founder and President, The Basics, Inc.
Ronald F. Ferguson is an MIT-trained economist who focuses social science research on economic, social, and educational challenges. He has been on the faculty at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government since 1983.
In 2014, he co-founded Tripod Education Partners and shifted into an adjunct role at the Kennedy School, where he remains a faculty affiliated at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI).
For the past several years, Ron’s focus as AGI director has been an initiative first entitled the Boston Basics. Now renamed simply The Basics, the project has moved out of Harvard into a nonprofit organization, The Basics, Inc. Beginning in 2016, implementation has spread to more than three-dozen other cities in The Basics Learning Network.
The Basics Strategy takes a socio-ecological saturation approach, collaborating with many partners to reach extended families with five The Basics Principles of caregiving advice for parenting infants and toddlers.
Ron holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a PhD from MIT, both in economics. He is happily married and the father of two adult sons.
Helping Families to Help Children Thrive, Beginning at Birth:
The Basics Principles, Strategy, and Movement
The Basics strategy is spreading in the US and abroad, to help ensure that children from all backgrounds have opportunities to achieve their full potential, beginning from birth. Ron Ferguson launched it while Faculty Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University. The approach is focused on five science-based caregiving principles—The Basics Principles—for the years from birth to five. It engages healthcare and faith-based organizations, libraries, early learning centers, and organizations in other sectors, to integrate information, social support, and reminders regarding the five principles into their work with families. Ron will explain the science behind The Basics Principles, give examples of work that communities in Virginia and other places are doing, and explain how interested people and communities can become involved in this pivotal movement.
Breakout Session Title:
Implementing The Basics Strategy
Dr. Ferguson will provide additional detail about how communities, organizations, and families implement The Basics strategy. He will show and discuss tools and approaches local leaders can use in work with organizations, that organizations can use with families, and that families can use with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. There will be ample time for questions and discussion.
Day 2- Wednesday Morning Keynote:
Retired Principal/Head Start Executive Director
Joyce Jones has thirty-nine years of diverse experience as an early childcare professional. Her work includes supervisory executive advisory level positions in the development and implementation of programs and services for children and their families. Her employment experiences include supervisory positions with Head Start, Virginia Preschool, Early Childhood Special Education, Title I, and Even Start public school preschool programs. While accompanying her husband on various military assignments, both stateside and overseas locations, Joyce provided oversight for the construction of childcare facilities in South Korea and Bahrain. She also managed childcare services for children ages four weeks to eighteen years as the Coordinator of Child Development and Youth Services. Joyce is an active member of national, regional, state, and local organizations that provide support for young children, families, and early childcare professionals. She is former early childhood adjunct professor at John Tyler Community College and trainer for the Department of Social Services.
Good Beginnings Never End. . . with BOOKS!
Let’s help children to EYE Books…BEFORE iPads and iPhones. Every child’s learning experience (birth and beyond) should BEGIN with BOOKS. Head Start is committed to ensuring every child develops EYES for Books. This is in addition to fast-paced learning on our super technology highways. The use of book strategies, techniques, reviews, ideas, recommendations and suggestions will be presented for teachers, parents, and administrators. EVERYDAY – READ A GOOD BOOK!
Day 2- Lunch, Special Guest
Dr. Deborah Bergeron (or Dr. B as she is known to students and educators) has spent over thirty years working to support the growth and development of children. She worked in public education as a middle and high school classroom teacher, an elementary and high school administrator and holds a school superintendents license in Virginia. Dr. B also started, grew and eventually sold her own supplemental educational services company. In 2018, Dr. Bergeron
was asked to lead the Office of Head Start and the Office of Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. It was here where Dr. B developed her passion for Head Start, Early Head Start and the early learning environment in general. In January, 2021, Dr. B joined the National Head Start Association as the Deputy Director of Community Engagement and Innovation. Here, she aims to bring the Head Start and Early Head Start community together, provide the necessary support to ensure high quality programming and be a constant reminder to the folks on the ground that THEY are the backbone of Head Start and Early Head Start. Dr. B advocates for programming that develops the whole child and embraces the value the family has in that process. “Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher,” is her favorite mantra, compliments of Head Start.
Dr. Bergeron holds a B.S.Ed. from Texas State University, a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership and a PhD in Education Policy and Education Psychology from George Mason University. She lives in Virginia with her husband and has four awesome children who, although are all grown up, will always be her heart!
Day 3 – Thursday Morning Keynote:
Dr. Allison Jackson-Dyer holds her PhD in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Virginia as well as a Certified Facilitator for Dr. Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ curriculum (CDWF) as well as her Dare to Lead™ curriculum (CDTLF). Her passion is to bring trauma and resilience informed practices to professionals honored to serve at promise youth, families and adults in their communities. She lives this passion by providing educational opportunities directly to community members as well as to professionals at the direct care and leadership levels of an organization.
She is a person of lived experience and a professional having provided services via Behavioral Health, Education, Child Welfare and Criminal Justice systems for over 20 years. For 13 years, she served within an international healthcare organization first as mentor and finally as their Vice President of Clinical Operations and National Trauma Informed Service Line Leader. Partnering with the National Council of Behavioral HealthCare, she co-led 17 National Teams through the Council’s Trauma Informed Learning Collaborative.
Today, Dr. Jackson-Dyer works full time as CEO of Resilient Leaders, LLC. (formerly Integration Solutions).
Her work is two fold:
She challenges herself to live an authentic life and step into “the arena” each day. Her hope is her work in collaboration with so many others will increase the empathy and self-compassion of those impacted by trauma and influence next generation health.
In her free time, Allison spends time with her husband, children, grandson, and pets. She enjoys traveling as well as playing cards and board games.
“Saving Heroes: Are you putting the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First?”
Two hundred and twenty three million persons in the United States have experienced a traumatic event prior to the age of 18. Experiencing a traumatic event prior to age 18 increases a person’s chances of adopting at risk health behaviors (physical and behavioral) leading to cognitive, social and physical impairments, disease and early death. The CDC reports that trauma (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is therefore the most basic public health issue in the United States affecting about 2 out of 3 persons in general population.
And this was all prior to March of 2020 and all the challenges our children, families and workforce faces in addition to the adversities in childhood that have continued.
These lived experiences include us!
As human service professionals and persons choosing to work with “at promise” children and families each day professionally, we can often forget that we too are included in this statistic. Many of us come with our own adversities as well as our own positive experiences. We bring them to this work – all of who we are. Perhaps it is why we came to this work … to make a difference.
All of us will experience toxic levels of stress as a result of choosing this work (now more than ever), placing us at great risk for job burnout, physical health conditions, mental health conditions and challenges in our personal relationships. Unaddressed, this toxic stress can lead to many of us spending more time training in our profession than being in our profession.
This workshop will briefly review the ACE study and what it means for all of us in the general population. However, the real focus will explore more closely the special health risks we as human service professionals working with at-promise children and families. What does it mean to live a life of linearity?? And why is it important to oscillate each day?? Most importantly, this workshop will focus on changes individuals need to make to benefit our physical, emotional and social health as well as changes that organizations can make to increase human service professionals’ resilience and decrease the risks of working in often stressful and toxic environments. Surprising as it may be, you are the most important person in the room with a child … so please put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others.
Breakout session: “What’s Next? Designing Resilience Plans for Us and those we serve”
70% of adults in the United State – 223.4 million people – have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. Adverse Childhood Studies show that many of these traumas occur before age 18 and result in disrupted brain development, adoption of at risk health behaviors, and increase the risk for disease, disability, social problems, and physical and mental illness in children and adults. The Center for Disease Control recognizes that this epidemic requires a public health response at a national, state, and local level.
Okay …. So what happens after we become aware of ACEs and not just ACEs but how a broad range of adversities in life (including abuse, neglect, household challenges, community violence, lack of access to resources, and historical oppression) impact our individual and community health.
Amiee Aquino has been in the early care and education field for over 20 years. She worked for different organizations and agencies such as the Department of Defense Air Force, Department of Defense Navy, Region III Head Start, Teaching Strategies, Knowledge Universe, and Bright Horizons Family Solutions. She had been a Training & Curriculum Specialist, Executive Center Director, Quality Assurance & Training Manager, and ECE TTA consultant. Amiee has an extensive background in staff development, trained in curriculum and assessment, presented at NAEYC and State conferences. Amiee was previously an ECE Specialist in Region III and provided TTA in areas of school readiness, career/professional development, and parent family community engagement. Amiee has a Bachelors of Science degree in Human Development and Family Sciences from University of Texas at Austin and some graduate studies in ECE.
Whitney K. Aulston
Whitney K. Aulston is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is the Executive Director and lead Behavior Specialist of LEAF Behavior Support, LLC, located in Virginia Beach. Whitney is also the Co-Owner of We Rock the Spectrum-Chesapeake, a new Sensory kid’s gym located in Chesapeake, Virginia. Whitney earned her BA in Sociology from South Carolina State University, a Masters of Arts & Teaching from Liberty University, and has taken coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis from Saint Joseph’s University & Capella University. Whitney has been endorsed as a PBS- F, which is a Positive Behavior Support Facilitator recognized in the state of Virginia since 2017. Whitney serves on the endorsement board for Positive Behavior Support Facilitators with the Public Partnership under Virginia Commonwealth University. Whitney’s personal philosophy of education is that all education is special education; all people have the ability to learn once their style of learning is discovered. Whitney has worked at various schools and facilities including New Hope Treatment Centers, Sheppard Pratt Health System, The Children’s Guild and has served as a Family Consultant for various Autism Waiver providers across the state of Maryland. Whitney previously served as the Chief Operations Officer for Community Direct Services, Inc. until 2022. Whitney also provides various trainings to corporations seeking to increase their knowledge and awareness of mental health challenges and other disabilities. These trainings have extended to behavior health organizations that desire to receive professional development for their internal team members, and DBHDS licensed organizations that need support meeting behavior competency and other requirements. Whitney is the author of 5 books. The most popular books include, A Happy Lemon Combo (Mindset Shifting Lessons Through Life’s Bitter Moments & A Happy Lemon Workbook) and, Antecedents, Behaviors, & Consequences: A Person-Centered Behavior Tracking Log. When Whitney isn’t working or advocating for those whose voices are often hidden, she enjoys spending time with her husband, children and striking up conversations with new people over a cup of tea.
Kimberly Austin is a professor of Early Childhood Education & Education at Southwest Virginia Community College where she teaches and advises Early Childhood students. Prior to her work at SWCC, she was an Education Director with Kids Central, Inc. Head Start/Early Head Start. Additionally, Dr. Austin has taught infants, toddlers and preschoolers in a childcare center. Dr. Austin is active in supporting community initiatives and programs that improve the quality of life for children and families in Southwest Virginia. She currently serves as the community representative on the VAHSA Board of Directors. Recently, Dr. Austin coauthored a textbook on language and literacy from birth to age 5, and along with colleagues, published it in a free online repository: https://viva.pressbooks.pub/earlychildhoodliteracy/
Keith Cartwright is the Adverse Childhood Experiences Coordinator for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. In this role, Keith has led an effort to train 350 ACE Interface master trainers and presenters across the state. Through their presentations, over 16,000 Virginians have become more aware of the connection between early childhood experiences and life-long health and wellness. Keith is also the part-time Alcohol and Drug Education Coordinator at Randolph-Macon College.
Abby Cheng is the Northern Virginia Programs Coordinator for Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom. Abby received her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences with an emphasis in teaching and learning at Virginia Tech in 2020. Abby is passionate about agriculture literacy programming and loves helping students and educators connect with and understand where their food comes from.
Robin Church is a mother of two teenage boys in Central Virginia who attended the Head Start Program at the age of 3. During this time, Robin volunteered in the classroom, becoming a member of the Policy Council for two years. Robin then became an Instructional Assistant for one of the Head Start classes in her community and held that position for 9 years before moving into the mental health field. Robin worked as a Family Services Specialist with Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU where she provided support to families whose child was being discharged from the Virginia Treatment Center for Children in addition to providing supports to families throughout the state of Virginia who are looking for services and supports for mental health disorders and developmental disabilities. Robin is currently working as the New Path Family Support Director at The Arc of Virginia. The Arc of Virginia is a statewide advocacy organization providing advocacy and family support to Virginians with Developmental disabilities across the lifespan regardless of age, diagnosis or support needs. Robin sits on many statewide organizations as a parent representative to make change for families of young children across the commonwealth. Robin has an AAS degree in Early Childhood Development and will be completing her bachelor’s in psychology in September 2022.
Miisha M. Clemons is a single mother of two sons. She is the author of Twice the Love Under Two Roofs which is a children’s book that focuses on positive co-parenting told from the perspective of a little boy. Twice the Love Under Two Roofs focuses on co-parenting in a positive manner and being a great example for your children. Through colorful illustrations this book will highlight the positive aspects of how to interact with your children and the other parent. She is also the author of In My Backpack: Elijah’s Big Responsibility. Ms. Clemons holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from Virginia State University and an M.S. in Strategic Public Relations from Virginia Commonwealth University. Miisha is a servant leader and enjoys volunteering in the community! She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, serves on the City of Portsmouth Library Board, served on the Board of Directors at Effingham Street Family YMCA and an Outreach Ambassador for the YWCA South Hampton Roads.
Dr. Nimali Fernando
Dr. Nimali Fernando is a pediatrician in Fredericksburg, VA, and a founder of the website doctoryum.org and The Dr. Yum Project. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and School of Public Health with an M.D. and Masters in Public Health. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center Houston. She is the owner of Yum Pediatrics, a full-service general pediatrics practice with a focus on wellness and nutrition, and shares a large teaching kitchen and teaching garden with The Dr. Yum Project. She is also co-author of, Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater and Dr. Yums Preschool Food Adventure.
Kisha Burchard-Goodfield is a retired Special Education Teacher from Long Island, NY. Kisha’s work experience includes years of teaching Early Intervention and SPED Preschool across home, center and community settings. Kisha’s career focus includes educational and therapeutic services for students with Autism, their teaching adults and families. Kisha ran a small private practice as an Interventionist offering special instruction, training, coaching and technical assistance around challenging behaviors. Kisha is new to Virginia. Here, she continues to support the behavioral needs of young children. Kisha has been part of both intensive in home therapy and applied behavior analytic teams. Currently, she is our southeastern region behavior consultant providing services for infants and toddlers. Kisha works with Virginia’s Infant and Toddler Specialist Network for Child Development Resources.
Kim Gregory holds a BA in Family Studies from Syracuse University and a MA in Early Childhood Education from Roosevelt University. Over 30 years of experience in the field in various roles and positions including classroom teacher, center director, field site supervisor, trainer, and college faculty. She was the Early Childhood Development Program Head at Virginia Western Community College from 2003-2020 and the Director of the Davenport Institute for Early Childhood Education from 2017-2020. From August 2020 to January 2022, she was an early childhood coordinator for the Training and Technical Assistance Center at James Madison University. Currently, she is an Associate Professor and Program Head in Early Childhood Development at Central Virginia Community College. She has been active in the early childhood community serving on various committees including Smart Beginnings, the Virginia Cross Sector for Professional Development, Head Start State Advisory Committee, and the State Leadership Team for the Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Kim loves training, teaching early childhood professionals, collaborating with community stakeholders, and working with community college students. Her biggest reward is knowing that she makes both an impact on community college students and the children and families in their care.
Ms. Donna Guevara has been a LEx Leader with parent support programming for over 25 years. She is a tireless advocate for parent leadership. Ms. Guevara coordinates the Virginia Parent Council and is a Member of the National Circle of Parents Parents as Leaders Team. She is a proud mother of two daughters and a son. She will share her experience of LEx Leadership, beginning as a parent member of a local support group to becoming a Circle of Parents Specialist for Families Forward Virginia. She will be joined by two members of the Virginia Parent Council.
Kayla Holley is a 5th year Head Start teacher from Nickelsville, Virginia. She graduated from East Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Child Development (Pre-K through third grade licensure) in 2018. Kayla serves as a certified CLASS observer for her program, has lead family workshops, and volunteers her time at her alma mater coaching teacher candidates during their residency. She has a passion for making learning accessible, enjoyable, and achievable for all children and their families.
Sherilyn Homans is the Family and Community Partnerships Supervisor (FCP) for the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit #23 Early Learning Programs located in southeastern PA. Since 2016, she has successfully led the Head Start Family Engagement Worker team, helped to coordinate efforts between the Policy Council and Board of Directors, increased community partnerships by over 300%, maintained full enrollments for Head Start and Pre-K Counts, and started working as the Head Start data analyst. She is currently enrolled in Capella University’s Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology program with a concentration in Organizational Development and Leadership and holds an MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, and a BA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Through her time as FCP, she has found a true passion for helping all individuals within her community feel empowered to make positive changes in their lives and those around them. She hopes to continue effectively engaging families via collaborative partnerships, like the one forged between MCIU Head Start and Learning Genie.
A self-described, “nerd of Early Childhood Education”, Crystal Howser is an Infant and Toddler Specialist through the Center for Child and Family Services. She has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and is currently working on another Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education through Virginia Commonwealth University. She has over 18 years of experience in Early Childhood Education, including 6 years as a teacher, and 8 years as a director. She enjoys being in the classroom with her program teachers and children, and lives by the words of Maya Angelou, who says, “You do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better you do better”.
Rashanda has served the HS/EHS community for 13 over years. Ms. Jenkins joined the TTA Network in 2019 as a Health Specialist. As the Health Specialist, she supports recipients with individualized TTA in areas such as safe and healthy learning environments; new health leadership and orientation; emergency preparedness; ongoing monitoring and quality improvement systems; and data monitoring and tracking. In her previous roles, while working at a recipient program, she analyzed and used multiple program datasets to make informed decisions for program operations, ongoing monitoring, and quality improvement. Ms. Jenkins provided resources and information on health-related topics and supported states in developing and strengthening state health manager networks. This wide-ranging experience with building organizational capacity and management systems enables her to provide TTA in specialty areas of data analysis, health and safety, and group facilitation and presentation. Ms. Jenkins currently lives in Arlington, VA.
Jamie Jirout, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Psychology and Applied Developmental Sciences program in the UVA School of Education and Human Development, where she directs the Research in Education and Learning lab. She studies how young children learn, with a focus on science-related skills, in both formal and informal settings. Her research explores how curiosity is promoted and can support learning, with a focus on early childhood but with studies spanning preschool through college-level learning. Her research takes place in classrooms, in a lab (or virtual lab via Zoom), and out in the community, such as at children’s museums.
Co-Author, Curiosity in Schools (2018, The New Science of Curiosity), Children’s Scientific Curiosity: In Search of an Operational Definition of an Elusive Concept (2012, Developmental Review) and Children’s Recognition of Uncertainty and Exploratory Curiosity (2009, Society for Research in Child Development). Jamie earned her Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University and B.A. at the University of Miami.
Dr. Christy John
Dr. Christy John has been working with young children and adults for over 20 years. She currently serves as a coach and trainer in Southeastern Virginia for the Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network and a consultant/trainer for Kaplan Early Learning Company. Additional recent positions have included adjunct professor for Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College in the Early Childhood Education departments. She holds a variety of certifications from a teaching license PK – 8th grade to Environmental, Developmental, and Interactions assessments and screening tools.Dr. John received her doctorate from Old Dominion University and her dissertation focus was on the professional learning of adults who work with young children. In 2011, the governor of Virginia appointed her to serve on the Child Day Care Council. Dr. John was the Old Dominion University Darden Fellow Recipient in 2018. She is the current President â€“ Elect for the Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children (VAEYC), an affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). She also has two teenagers and two puppies, enjoys cooking, travelling, reading, and the outdoors.
Tammy Johnson has implemented, directed, and trained others to run large-scale vision screening programs for more than 20 years. She began the Tennessee statewide program in 1997 while in the ophthalmology department at Vanderbilt University, partnering with the Tennessee Lions. She then worked for the Lions Clubs International Foundation for twelve years in the establishment of 18 preschool vision screening programs throughout the US. Throughout this time, she collaborated with pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatricians in the publication of several research articles about best practices in vision screening. She now lives in the Atlanta area and directs program development for Plusoptix.
Sharon Y. Jones
Sharon Y. Jones is a product of Suffolk Public Schools a graduate of Saint Pauls’ College, in Lawrenceville, Virginia. Where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. Sharon also attended Norfolk State University graduate program in Early Childhood Education.Sharon is employed with Hampton Roads Community Action Program (HRCAP) Head Start/Early Head Start Newport News, Virginia as the Early Head Start Coordinator. On her team there are 8 qualified staff that serve 32 children and their families. She was the Center Coordinator with The Children’s Center Head Start/Early Head Start Program, Suffolk, Virginia. Sharon’s career begin in Early Childhood Education with the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project Inc. (STOP) Organization, Norfolk, Virginia in 1996 as an Education Manager, Fatherhood Coordinator and Transition Specialist. Sharon brings over 26 years of knowledge and experience to this Conference.
Camille A. Kelly
Camille A. Kelly is a dynamic, passionate, and visionary leader who has worked her way to this distinction by experiencing many roles in education throughout her journey. Her twenty-seven years of experience spans various types of early childhood agencies and roles from teacher to leader. Along the way, Camille worked to refine and introduce new and more positive approaches to student engagement and leadership. Camille earned her Ph.D. in Education from Walden University in 2013 and as an administrator recognized the power of moving from simply managing to visionary leadership! She is passionate about developing teachers and prospective administrators as leaders and continues to embrace new challenges as every experience develops character and prompts growth.
Susan La Paro
Susan La Paro is the Children’s and Youth Services Consultant at the Library of Virginia, where she provides comprehensive consulting services, training, and support to Virginia’s public libraries in the areas of school readiness and summer and out of school learning for children, youth, and families. Susan has worked in a variety of library settings: university, elementary school and public. Before obtaining her current position, she was the Manager of Youth Services for the York County Public Library for 16 years. She earned a Masters in Library Science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and has a BA in English and a JD from the College of William and Mary.
Rachel is a longtime Early Education professional who has held many titles over the last 16 years. Currently, she is one of two Infant and Toddler Specialists (ITS) in the Eastern Region of the Virginia Infant and Toddler Specialist Network. As such, she provides coaching, training, and technical assistance to teachers and administrative staff working with children under 36 months. When she isn’t wearing her ITS hat, she enjoys spending time with her blended family of 6 children and her wonderful husband, Brian who is also an educator.
Tammy Maxey is the executive director of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. She is an advocate for promoting agricultural literacy in youth through state and national initiatives. The focus of her work is to create and provide educational resources to educators and children which broaden an understand of agriculture and awareness of its importance in daily life. She serves as the team leader in the research of new avenues to connect with program consumers such as; creating curriculum books and stand-alone lessons, developing multimedia curriculum connections, creation of a YouTube channels of educational pieces designed for youth and educators, establishing and growing a social media presence, ongoing advances toward print and marketing resources as well as working directly with educators providing professional development offerings at the state and national levels.
As a master educator for over 30 years, Tammy holds a post-master’s certificate in principalship from Virginia Commonwealth University and a bachelor’s degree in special education. She also holds a master’s degree from Virginia Tech in vocational technical education. Additionally, she received a Non-profit marketing certificate from University of Richmond. Her combination of education and experience as a cattle producer provide her a unique skill set beneficial for her role at Virginia AITC.
Richelle is an experienced early childhood educator with twenty seven years teaching in Head Start. Like many Head Start programs Richelle wears many hats. She is an education coordinator, Certified Pre-K CLASS Observer, Certified HIghScope Trainer, coach, mentor and coordinator. Richelle has many tidbits stored in her brain, some are important and some are not. She is always happy to share.
Nancy M. Null is a former Head Start Director serving the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Norfolk, VA. She retired in 2017 and works part-time for Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula (and Child Care Aware of VA) as a Child Care Specialist and Program Manager. Continuing work in the Early Childhood Education field was the goal, in assisting families and staff who work with children ages 0-5. By partnering with providers on the Peninsula and Middle Peninsula, the support and services that are provided ensure the children and families will be ready to enter Kindergarten and achieve the success that every student deserves. Nancy has been providing training since coming to SBVP, in the areas of Trauma Informed Care, Kindergarten Readiness, starting a Child Care Center, Application of Child Care Subsidy, CACFP, starting a Family Day Home, Health & Safety, Licensing and improving the Quality of Teaching for Staff who work with children.
Caitlin Powell received her M.S. in Educational Administration from Drexel University in 2015. Additionally, Caitlin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from the State University of New York at Potsdam, earned in 2009. Caitlin has served young learners from New York to California as an administrator, teacher, researcher, presenter, and consultant in university, public, and private school settings. These experiences have always motivated Caitlin to help high-quality early learning become more modern and accessible. With this mission at the forefront, Caitlin deeply enjoys working with educational staff of all levels in order to shape policy and practices that best serve our littlest learners.
Mr. Preece has 22 years experience in the Head Start/Early Head Start community. He has worked in a local program for 8 years as a Family and Community Partnership Specialist and Infant and Toddler Specialist before moving into the Head Start Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) system. While in the TTA system Mr. Preece has conducted numerous trainings around the country on a myriad of early childhood topics. Mr. Preece also served as chair of the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Birth to Three Institute national conferences while at the Early Head Start National Resource Center. Currently, Mr. Preece is an Early Childhood Specialist with ICF providing expert training and technical assistance to Head Start programs in West Virginia and Virginia. Mr. Preece has a Bachelors of Social Work and BA in Early Childhood Education from Concord University, a MS in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University, and an ED.S in Educational Leadership from Liberty University.
Christine Schull is a professor in the Early Childhood Education program at Northern Virginia Community College where she trains students who are currently in the early childhood field, or looking to enter it. Prior to her work at NOVA, she was a research fellow for the Rural Poverty Research Institute, where she examined school readiness and physical health. At various points, she has taught infants, toddlers and preschoolers in child care settings. She also taught first grade in the Spanish immersion program in Fairfax County Public Schools. Christine believes that a crucial part of addressing children’s school readiness is by supporting the workforce through professional development. Her most recent work has focused on professional development pathways. She also recently coauthored a textbook on language and literacy from birth to age 5, and along with colleagues, published it in a free online repository: https://viva.pressbooks.pub/earlychildhoodliteracy/
Karla Sprouse is an Early Childhood Specialist with ICF who has been working with young children since 1989 and with Head Start/Early Head Start since 2004. She has been an Infant Toddler Specialist, a teacher, a family consultant, a Center Director, an Education and Disabilities Coordinator, and the Director of an Early Head Start program in Virginia. Throughout her career, Karla has been successful in promoting collaborative efforts to increase quality education for young children both in her community and across the state. Karla holds her Masters of Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood from Liberty University, her Bachelor’s degree in Human Services: Management, her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Development, and she is a 2013 graduate of the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Head Start Management Fellows Program.
Dr. Kalota Stewart-Gurley
Dr. Kalota Stewart-Gurley currently serves as the Early Head Start and Head Start Director over Richmond City, Petersburg City, Powhatan County, and Goochland County. Over the years Dr. Stewart-Gurley has served in public and private schools, central office leadership, and university-level positions. She has also had the opportunity to support school districts with her educational consultation expertise to direct successful improvement and turnaround efforts. Dr. Stewart-Gurley has served scholars ranging from 2 to 72 and she believes in doing whatever it takes for our students – all of them! She has expertise in policy, procedures, project management, data, continuous quality improvement, leadership, and instructional coaching techniques. When asked what her greatest accomplishment has been, she simply stated – “My students’ success!”.
Gina Stukes is an educator with over 25 years of experience. She is the former Music Teacher at Portlock Primary School. She is now the owner of Crescendo Music and Wellness Group. She specializes in providing music lessons as therapy to the vulnerable and marginalized populations. She has 19 years of classroom experience with students in grades preK-5. Gina Stukes is an excellent speaker with proven ability to communicate.
Linda Tazi is the peninsula regional Infant and Toddler Behavior Consultant. Linda is employed through Child Development Resources and a part of the Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network. Linda has a Master degree in Marriage and Family Counseling and received her Virginia Infant Mental Health Endorsement certification. She currently located in Newport News, Virginia. Linda has devoted many years to the early childhood field in child development centers and Early Head Start programs.
Kelly Thompson is the Regional Partnerships Director at LENA for the Mid-Atlantic Region. For over 20 years, Kelly has been passionate about providing support to educators, children, families, and communities. Over the years she has helped launch early literacy programs across the US. Her love for supporting early childhood professionals and programs is evident through the high-quality professional development she provides within the Mid-Atlantic region. Kelly received her bachelor’s degree in sociology at LaSalle University in Philadelphia. She received her master’s degree in education at Neumann University and is currently completing course work for her doctoral degree in Education at Walden University. She was born and raised in Philadelphia and currently resides in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and volunteering in her community.
Sue Trainor is a Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist based in the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland Regional Programs. She is a musician and performing-songwriter with a gift for stirring-up enthusiasm and creativity. Sue has been a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist since 2003, bringing professional development residencies into preschool and kindergarten classrooms, providing professional development workshops for early childhood educators and trainings for other teaching artists. Sue was named 2014 Artist of the Year by Arts for Learning Maryland for her arts-in-education work, which includes her role as lead teaching artist in the Maryland Wolf Trap region, Arts Integration Facilitator at a Title 1 school, and her residency programs in elementary, secondary, and special needs classrooms. Her most recent recording, “In Our Own Words”, won the Wammie Award from the Washington Area Music Association for Best CD for Children. Sue received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Lawrence University.
Dr. Pamela Waddell
Dr. Pamela Waddell has served the HS/EHS community for over 20 years, 9 of which have been in TTA. She has served in the capacities of Grantee Specialist and, most recently, Grantee Specialist Manager. At her previous employment as a Head Start director, she engaged families in all aspects of program operations, including the policy council. In addition, she provided oversight to family services and PD to family services workers. During her time as a Grantee Specialist in the TTA Network, she provided TTA to management teams including PFCE managers to ensure family services were fully integrated. She also has experience in providing training and technical assistance to programs serving children birth to five and has developed and presented training at local, state, and regional events and conferences on a variety of program topics that include leadership and management systems, data, ERSEA, curriculum, child growth and development, health and safety, child outcomes, mental health, and assessment. Dr. Waddell currently lives in Tazewell, Virginia.
Jamie Wallace is an Infant and Toddler Specialist for the Virginia Peninsula Region. She has over 20 years of childcare experience. Ms. Wallace has held several positions within the field of early childhood to include being a childcare provider, director and coach. She has a strong passion for equity and equality practices within the classroom environment. Engaging and building meaningful relationships with young children is important to Ms. Wallace. She believes nurturing and bonding relationships acquired early on, lays a positive foundation for children’s overall development and future endeavors.
Brenda Workman works for Bluefield University in Bluefield Virginia as the Associate Director of Online Recruitment and Corporate Partnerships. In this role, she builds partnerships with organizations and companies while promoting Bluefield Universityâ€™s online programs to working adults. Brenda also worked in academic support for three years at Bluefield University in her former role, teaching academic success courses and leading workshops for students. Brenda operates her own business, speaking to groups about the importance of living intentionally, eating whole food plant based, and setting and achieving goals. Brenda has spoken to groups at professional training sessions, ladies church events and professional business conferences. She has been married to her husband, Mark, for 40+ years. She is a mother to four children and grandmother to nine sweet grandchildren. She enjoys quiet mornings with her coffee and prayer journal in hand. She also enjoys growing her own vegetables and cooking whole food plant-based recipes. Check out her website at www.brendaworkmanspeaks.com
Lala Zhang is the co-founder and President of Learning Genie. For the last seven years, she has been on a mission to provide service and training to thousands of early childhood educators, leaders, parents, and children. She understands the needs and passion of the early learning community and appreciates their hard work. Her goal is to empower better early learning for young children. Lala holds a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Nebraska and worked for the government prior to Learning Genie. With a technology background, she hopes to integrate technology innovation with education to empower better early learning. Lala has presented at various national and regional conferences on the topics of child assessment, data-driven family engagement, and InKind collection.
Our Conference is in Portsmouth, Virginia and we have left evenings open for you to have to yourself or your staff. Enjoy! Explore!
Some resources here for you to utilize and some options if you want to book in advanced.
A great website to check out: https://portsvacation.com/home/
The Commodore Theater is a restored art-deco theatre that originally opened in 1945. It’s on the national register of historic places. They show first run movies and serve dinner with beer and wine. The seating is lounge style with lamps on each table. It has the only Dolby THX sound system in the area. It’s a beautiful theatre and great place to see a film.
The Bier Garden is a German restaurant where authentic Bavarian cuisine meets a stellar beer selection. For over 18 years, the Osfolk family has provided a warm, welcoming atmosphere offering amazing German cuisine as well as 23 taps and over 400 varieties of beer.
Fish & Slips offers the only on-the-water dining as well as the only raw bar in Portsmouth. Enjoy a stroll down the Tidewater Yacht Marina pier to find a large selection of fried, steamed or broiled seafood, including fresh, locally caught fish.
Rodger Brown’s is located in Historic Olde Towne Portsmouth, a Sports Bar, restaurant, patio, and dance hall that caters to a diverse community. A unique stadium selection with four 8 x 6 foot screens and 23 televisions so you know your game is always on.PORTS-19092-RestaurantGuide-Mobile
Mary Veale and the Colonials. They do a variety of themed walking tours through the historic Olde Towne neighborhood and portray characters from Portsmouth’s past. They have put together some offerings that must be booked by October 18th. See below:Group Tours October 25th, 26th, 27th
The Carrie B is a local charter boat and could handle up to 175 people. You could use it for sightseeing or to throw a party (dinner, dancing, etc…). The downstairs is enclosed and climate controlled. The upper deck is open. It could be a little chilly on the water that time of year. http://carrieb.com/
The Book Store has a candle pouring bar. They often do a program called candles and conversation. If the group wanted to go and select their fragrance and learn to pour a candle, that could be a fun activity. https://www.facebook.com/TBConHigh It is within walking distance and it’s a large space great for a variety of activities should you want to rent it out for a party.
There is a local art store that does art classes (with or without wine) and each participant cant take something away with them. It’s called That Art Store and Hazel, the owner, would be glad to customize something for the group. https://www.facebook.com/thatartstore/ It’s walking distance from hotel.
Lemans Karting is located on the far end of town and would require transportation to get there. It’s the largest indoor track in Virginia and the karts can reach speeds up to 45 mph. It is a great team building activity. They can manage the heats for groups, or you can just go out and have fun without competing. https://www.lemanskarting.com/portsmouth-va
Roger Brown’s is a large, locally owned restaurant located within walking distance of the hotel. For a large group, they might be willing to put a band in on one of those nights. Most of the live music around town happens Thursday through Sunday. Roger Brown’s is also a large sports bar and might be a fun place to take in a game on a large screen tv. https://www.rogerbrowns.com/
The Elizabeth River Ferry connects people from Portsmouth to Norfolk and back. The ferry runs every 30 minutes on the following schedule:
:00 High Street Landing
:05 North Landing
:30 High Street Landing
:35 North Landing
The ride to and from across the Elizabeth River is about 5 minutes. During peak weekend times between memorial day and labor day (and a few special events), they run two ferries on a 15 minute schedule.
The cost of the ride across is $2.00 each way for adults. Seniors over 65, $1.00. Children under 17 are free with a paid adult. Only exact change/cash is accepted on board the ferry. Day passes are also available for $4.50 which are good for the entire day and provides transportation on the Elizabeth River Ferry, the Tides Light Rail, and all HRT busses. It can be used for multiple crossings each day.
Tickets, including day passes, may be purchased with a credit card or larger bills at a machine located adjacent to High Street landing – the Visitor Information Kiosk. Day passes only may be purchased at the Portsmouth Welcome Center, 206 High Street.
Currently, there are no options for purchasing tickets on the Norfolk side. You must have exact change or a ticket purchased elsewhere.
WATERSIDE DISTRICT— where the Ferry docks
GRAIN– Rooftop Beer Garden:
GERSHWINS Piano Bar– live entertainment see schedule on website
Registration for the 2022 VAHSA Annual Conference is FULL! We are looking forward to seeing everyone together in person
The host hotel – Renaissance Portsmouth is sold out. Below you can find some nearby overflow options to book your stay:
The Quality Inn: Short Drive to Renaissance Portsmouth.
You need to take The Elizabeth River Ferry from Norfolk to Portsmouth from the below locations:
The Elizabeth Ferry information is on the Explore Portsmouth Tab.
777 Waterside Drive Norfolk, Virginia 23510
520 Plume Street Norfolk, Virginia 23510
Please note: we do not have transportation arranged between these hotels and the Renaissance. Transportation is the responsibility of the attendee.
PARKING at the Renaissance: is $10/day or- $1.50/ hour does not exceed $10
MASKS: With so many people coming together from near/far, we are highly encouraging the use of masks as we gather together indoors with such a large group.
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