Focus on Children Virtual Conference

Focus on Children conference coming to you virtually through Zoom on Saturday, February 6.

Focus on Children 2021 brochure

Focus on Children 2021 brochure

 

Please see the FAQ page for Zoom account information and requirements.

Canvas will be used for workshop evaluations, handouts, announcements, etc. See the FAQ page for information about Canvas.

If you have questions please call 360.752.8478 or email hwillbrandt@btc.edu.

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Keynote Speaker

Cultivating Compassion in Our Community and Ourselves

Between a global pandemic and pervasive racial injustice, this year has given rise to a tapestry of emotional experiences. We feel sadness, worry, and anger about how many people are becoming ill or harmed, while being confounded by trying to juggle professional and family responsibilities. But acts of kindness by strangers, neighbors, and faraway friends that have been sprinkled in between have also been a source of gratitude. These positive experiences affirm that when times are tough, it is not uncommon for people to show compassion. We sometimes assume that emergencies automatically lead to panic, but research consistently shows that people tend to act in solidarity and turn toward each other with a sense of togetherness. They volunteer, donate supplies, and spread goodwill, strengthening social bonds and helping everyone be resilient together.

Compassion - noticing others suffering and being motivated to provide relief to them—grows early on in life. Babies prefer helpers over hinderers and they already show the seeds of empathy with facial expressions, vocalizations, and gestures that reflect concern when others are in distress. This presentation will highlight practical, science-based ways to help realize our instinctual capacity for compassion for our community and ourselves that are relevant to these hard times.

Introducing Our Keynote Speaker: Maryam Abdullah

Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., is the Parenting Program Director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. She is a developmental psychologist with expertise in parent-child relationships and children’s prosocial development. At the Greater Good Science Center, Maryam leads the center’s parenting initiative, which supports community-based organizations that serve parents. She also writes articles about the latest child development and parenting science research for families on Greater Good, the center’s online magazine. Prior to joining the Greater Good Science Center, she was an Assistant Project Scientist in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine where she conducted applied research with children and families and provided parenting and child interventions at a school-based behavioral health program.

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Agenda

8-8:30 a.m. - Log in to Zoom using your Meeting ID Number

8:30-8:45 a.m. - Welcome and Announcements

8:45-9:45 a.m. - Keynote: Cultivating Compassion in Our Community and Ourselves, Dr. Maryam Abdullah

9:45-10:30 a.m. - Discussion with Affinity Groups

10:30-10:45 a.m. - Break

10:45-12:45 p.m. - Workshop Session #1 (Log into Zoom using your Meeting ID Number)

  • Fostering Social and Emotional Health Through Empathy, Dawson Nichols

  • REACH: Exploring Equity and Cultural Humility in Early Childhood, Julie Mauermann, Heather Jefferson, Masa DeLara

  • Honor the Child: How Culture Impacts Development and What to do About it, Kim Bogren Owen

  • Exploring and Creating Your Professional Mission Statement, Ray Soriano, MSW

  • Math Anywhere! Creating Engaging Math Experiences, Jacque Rafferty

  • Expanding Your Understanding of Gender, Francie Gass, Jena Lopez, Constance Murphy, Robin Koolen

  • Emotional Resilience: Bouncing Back During Challenging Times, Jamie Ashton

  • Play Partners: How Adults Support Children’s Creative Play, Allie Pasquier

  • ¿Que lees? Platicas de diversidad e inclusión con niños, Dra. Jessica Ferreras-Stone y Dra. Margarita Ruiz Guerrero

12:45-1:30 p.m. - Lunch

1:30-3:30 p.m. - Workshop Session #2 (Log into Zoom using your Meeting ID Number)

  • Meaningful, Trauma-Informed Family Engagement During a Pandemic and Beyond, Ray Soriano, MSW

  • Inspiring Wonder: Creating a Reflective, Responsive Classroom that Motivates Learning and Curiosity, Kim Bogren Owen

  • Hard Kids and How to Reach Them: Strategies that Work, Patti Hoelzle

  • Vroom: Building Brains from Birth to 5, Vesla Tonnessen

  • Online Family Engagement: Rethinking Family Fun Nights, Sue Duncan and Elyssa Yunker

  • Resilience & Hope: Building from the Basics, Kristi Slette

  • Since Time Immemorial, Heather Jefferson

  • Cómo Guiar el Comportamiento de los Niños Utlizando las Herramientas de Disciplina Positiva, Carolina Olza-Kelsh 

3:30-4:00 p.m. - Closing and Evaluations (Please log into Canvas to complete your evaluations. You will need to complete one evaluation for each of the three presentations.)

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Workshops

10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

 

Fostering Social and Emotional Health Through Empathy

Dawson Nichols

Empathy is critical to social and emotional development. This talk will outline the emergence of empathy and discuss its role in building relationships and preventing bias. We will provide practical advice for ways to foster this important skill, even during a pandemic.

Core Competencies: Child Growth & Development, Interactions



REACH: Exploring Equity and Cultural Humility in Early Childhood

Julie Mauermann, Heather Jefferson, Masa DeLara

Individuals will explore the concepts of equity, cultural humility and inclusion, acquiring new knowledge and perspective to participate more fully in a culturally and racially diverse world. Participants will increase self-awareness, and develop skills to shift interactions and approaches to create a more inclusive program environment.

Core-Competencies: Family & Community Partnerships, Interactions



Honor the Child: How Culture Impacts Development and What to do About it

Kim Bogren Owen

Did you know that children learn to walk even when they’re kept in containers? That development happens in a similar way, but not on the same timeline? That cultures values impact how a child develops? Learn the ways culture impacts child development and how to honor those differences within your classroom.

Core Competencies: Child Growth & Development



Exploring and Creating Your Professional Mission Statement

Ray Soriano, MSW

What do you stand for?  What motivates, drives, and inspires you?  How do you want to impact the world?  The pandemic and other significant recent events have challenged us to reflect on the “why” of our work with young children.  Important discussions related to child well-being, trauma and racism, inclusion, social justice, and family engagement have emerged.  Whether you are new to early learning or are a seasoned leader, Ray will guide a meaningful, reflective process of exploring your core values and creating your own professional mission statement.

Core Competencies: Program Planning & Development, Professional Development & Leadership



Math Anywhere! Creating engaging math experiences

Jacque Rafferty

This session dives into the math that is all around us. We will look at ways to incorporate math into everyday situations using simple games, free resources, and easy to create materials to see how we can do math anywhere!

Core Competencies: Curriculum & Learning Environment



Expanding Your Understanding of Gender

Francie Gass, Jena Lopez, Constance Murphy, Robin Koolen

We will be exploring the complexity of gender. Participants will gain an understanding of the unconscious gender biases and will gain knowledge about gender beyond the binary. We will share ways to create a nurturing environment for all genders, be they children or adults.

Core Competencies: Curriculum & Learning Environment, Interactions



Emotional Resilience: Bouncing Back During Challenging Times

Jamie Ashton

During challenging times, we need to boost our resilience and rely on emotional strength for ourselves and to support those with whom we work. In this session we will define emotional resilience and understand its importance, use the emotion cycle to describe and reflect on an emotional experience, and learn strategies to support others in developing emotional resilience.

Core Competencies: Professional Development and Leadership



Play Partners: How Adults Support Children’s Creative Play

Allie Pasquier

Young children are constantly at play in their minds and bodies. But, in a world that is increasingly screen-centered, children have fewer opportunities to engage in free play, and can struggle to stay engaged in open-ended play. This workshop helps adults working with young children in all settings learn how to be a play partner. We'll explore creating interactive environments, embracing our own playfulness, and letting children take the lead as they figure out how the world works.

Core Competencies: Curriculum and Learning Environment

 

¿Que lees? Platicas de diversidad e inclusión con niños


Dra. Jessica Ferreras-Stone y Dra. Margarita Ruiz Guerrero

Los libros para niños provocan conversaciones impactantes sobre la diversidad y la inclusión con los estudiantes más jóvenes. Esta sesión proporcionará: (1) la justificación de los libros que promueven la diversidad y la inclusión, (2) recursos para encontrar literatura infantil de alta calidad, (3) ejemplos de ideas para lecciones y preguntas de discusión, y (4) tiempo para que los asistentes revisen libros nuevos y hagan una lluvia de ideas para la planeación de lecciones.

Core Competencies: Curriculum & Learning Environment


1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

Meaningful, Trauma-Informed Family Engagement During a Pandemic and Beyond

Ray Soriano, MSW

More than ever, families are at the center of early childhood education, and parents are their child’s most important teachers.  How can we better connect with, respond to, and partner with families, especially during this time of complex challenges and uncertainty?  Join Ray for an exploration of concrete strategies to engage with families from a place of compassion, trauma-awareness, cultural humility, and hope.  Will include tips for engaging fathers.

Core Competencies: Family & Community Partnerships; Professional Development & Leadership

 


Inspiring Wonder: Creating a Reflective, Responsive Classroom that Motivates Learning and Curiosity

Kim Bogren Owen

Learn how to use observation to include individualized planning in your classroom and to better communicate with parents about their child. Inspire children to become learners by ditching themes focusing on creating a classroom that is meaningful to all the children in your care. Attendees will practice observing, explore different types of child portfolios, as well as how to document learning in the classroom.

Core Competencies: Curriculum & Learning Environment



Hard kids and how to reach them: Strategies that work

Patti Hoelzle

Children are coming into our organizations with more and more extreme behaviors due to experiencing trauma. Participants will gain an understanding of where those behaviors come from and will not only walk away with concrete strategies to de-escalate a triggered child, but build trusting relationships with them at the same time.

Core Competencies: Child Growth & Development



Vroom: Building Brains from Birth to 5

Vesla Tonnessen

“Vroom” helps parents and caregivers boost their child's learning during the time they already spend together. In this workshop, you will learn how to use the website and application to turn everyday moments with children into brain building moments and deliver positive parenting messaging to the families you serve.

Core Competencies: Child Growth & Development; Interactions



Online Family Engagement: Rethinking Family Fun Nights

Sue Duncan and Elyssa Yunker

Strategize family engagement with online tools to support either virtual or live events. Brainstorm an event and walk through how Asana, YouTube, and Google Sites can support you in the planning and execution of it. Let this workshop introduce you to three types of technology to support your re-imagining of what family engagement can look like.  Leave with a general flow chart of your event from start to finish, ready for you to build upon and utilize, as well as resources for further training.

Core Competencies: Family and Community Partnerships; Program Planning and Development



Resilience & Hope: Building from the Basics

Kristi Slette

Research tells us how childhood trauma and exposure to toxic impact brain development across the lifespan. What does research tell us about the sciences of resilience and hope? Discuss how to increase resilience and hope in children and adults. Learn knowledge and skills that can mitigate stress responses in home and workplace settings and help you build a more compassionate response. For newcomers & those seeking review on addressing ACEs (Adverse Childhood & Community Experiences).

Core Competencies: Child Growth & Development; Health, Safety & Nutrition



Since Time Immemorial

Heather Jefferson

The Since Time Immemorial theme kits were created in cooperation with local tribes and Whatcom County Library System to bring books and activities to schools and families for educational purposes about the local tribes, Lummi and Nooksack. The three theme kits are about Family, Salmon, and the Environment. The books are all related to the themes, and the activities are local in cultural context. The kits will be available, and a discussion of the local culture will be shared. 

Core Competencies: Curriculum & Learning Environment

 

Cómo Guiar el Comportamiento de los Niños Utlizando las Herramientas de Disciplina Positiva.

Carolina Olza-Kelsh

En esta session exploraremos las herramientas y principos educativos fundamentales de la disciplina positiva.  Encontraremos soluciones y sugerencias para tartar problemas de conducta en niños pequenos.  La disciplina positiva se enfoca en user oportunidades diarias para ayudar al niño a obtener la capacidad de solucionar problemas al mismo tiempo que aprende a controlar sus emociones y desarrollar sus funciones ejecutivas.

Core Competencies: Interactions

 

 

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Presenters

Get to know our presenters!

These presenters will lead breakout sessions that focus on age groups and roles in early education:

Jamie Ashton:

Jamie Ashton is an Early Achievers Coach and trainer with Child Care Aware of Northwest Washington/Opportunity Council. She has more than 30 years of experience as a teacher, administrator, and coach. Jamie is passionate about supporting teachers and administrators I becoming reflective learners in early childhood education.

Allie Bishop Pasquier:

Allie Bishop Pasquier is an Early Childhood Educator and the founder of Play Lab. Her work is focused on supporting caregivers as they create playful environments for children’s explorations, with an emphasis on open-ended materials.

Kim Bogren Owen:

I started working in ECEC in 1988 as an assistant teacher and since then, I worked in various positions ranging from sub to rater to coach to overseeing programs at the state level. I just completed my MA in ECE through Pacific Oaks. I started developing trainings in 1991 and work to ensure they are engaging and informative. While I love working with little ones, I most enjoy working with adult learners and doing advocacy work for the field. I self-published two children’s pictures books in 2016. On a personal note, I’ve been married to my husband for 24 years. We have two children, Amber (26)_and Zac (17), along with our three current furbaby pups, Xander, Rory, Lazlo. My favorite none-ECEC activities are reading, writing, photographer, and at the top, beachcombing. My current favorite books are The Book Thief and All The Light We Cannot See. I have worked with teachers to help them learn how to observe and plan for individual children. Additionally, I researched how culture impacts child development and am currently working on a full-length training on this topic.

Masa DeLara:

Masa DeLara is an educator, facilitator and consultant who has worked in public schools for over 10 years, providing innovative programming for children from preschool through high school. She provides invaluable insight and direction through her knowledge, lived experience, and influence in creating equity change in schools and non-profit organizations. She is a REACH, ACES and NEAR Sciences and trauma-responsive environments educator, as well as a trained mediator and Art of Hosting practitioner. Masa has a deep commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice.

 

Sue Duncan:

Sue Duncan is the Program Assistant for Child Care Aware of Northwest Washington. With years of experience in preschool and homeschool teaching behind her, she has been supporting the professional development team and Early Achievers coaches since 2016.  After a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 1996, she also obtained an initial ECE certificate in 2018 and completed her AMI Assistants to Infancy diploma in 2020. In response to COVID-19, the third block of the AMI program was completely online, including observations, live oral exams, and completion of a digital portfolio. These online tools were fundamental to successfully completing the program and inspired this workshop.

Dr. Jessica Ferreras-Stone:

La Dra. Jessica Ferreras-Stone es hablante nativa del idioma Español y profesora asistente en el departamento de educación de Western Washington University. Ambas lleva a cabo investigaciones sobre la justicia social y educativa con especial atención a las comunidades que han sido históricamente marginadas. Para conectar la teoría y la práctica, ambas disfruta del uso de la literatura infantil como un medio para generar conversaciones de diversidad e inclusión con los estudiantes más jóvenes.

Francie Gass, R.N., BSN:

Francie Gass taught parenting education at Bellingham Technical College for 30 years. She is a member of PFLAG Whatcom’s Speaker’s Bureau, has training from the Transgender Training Institute and is the parent of a transgender woman.

Patti Hoelzle:

Patti Hoelzle, a professional school counselor and foster parent, is passionate about educating professionals on how kids with trauma learn and act differently in her role as Social Emotional Learning Coordinator for Ferndale Schools. Patti has a master’s degree in education: school counseling.

Heather Jefferson:

Heather Jefferson is a member of Lummi Nation who was raised on the land and has fished the same waters her ancestors have since time immemorial. Her bachelor’s degree in elementary education has given her the privileged opportunity to experience both the traditional way of learning as well as the Western way of learning, allowing her to understand and convey the unique perspective of her experience as a Coast Salish Native. Heather shares this perspective as a REACH educator, teacher, and consultant on ACES, NeuroScience, and trauma-responsive environments. From this work, she appreciates that prevention and early intervention are vital for healing.

Robin Koolen, BA:

Robin Koolen has a Montessori teaching certificate for ages 3-6. They have 30 years of experience working with young children. Robin identifies as non-binary.

Jena Lopez, MD:

Jena Lopez, MD is a member of WPATH. She has provided gender-related care and education for over 4 years.

Julie Mauermann:

Julie Mauermann has 30 years of experience in the early childhood field, working in public school, college, and public library settings. Julie’s passion for her work is nested in understanding human development through a lens of authentic connection, support, and inclusion. She challenges herself personally and professionally to open conversations about oppression and privilege with a commitment to creating enduring organizational change. Julie works to uncover and challenge ways her white and class privileges function to hold systems of oppression in place, engaging in listening, change practices, and actions. She is a REACH educator.

Constance Murphy:

Constance Murphy has been a member of PFLAG Whatcom’s Speaker’s Bureau for two years. She is a transgender woman.

Dawson Nichols:

Dawson Nichols has been an educator and science communicator for more than 20 years. In addition to teaching the University of Washington and several of the Seattle Colleges, Dawson has also worked in theater – writing, directing, and performing plays, many of which have dealt with scientific subjects. Through both theater and I-LABS, Dawson seeks to expand the reach of empathy and understanding.

Carolina Olza-Kelsh, MS:

Carolina  ha dado classes a padres de familia, y procedures por 12 años en Whatcom Community College.  Obtuvo su maestría en Educación Infantil con enfoque en diversidad cultural.  Es instructora certificada en el area de Disciplina Positiva.

Jacque Rafferty:

I have been working in the ECE field for 14 years. I hold a BA. Ed. in Elementary Ed and Environmental Studies and have worked with Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington for almost 7 years. I am currently working towards my master’s in early childhood education.

Dr. Margarita Ruiz-Guerrero:

La Dra. Margarita Ruiz Guerrero es hablante nativa del idioma Español y profesora asistente en el departamento de educación de Western Washington University. Ambas lleva a cabo investigaciones sobre la justicia social y educativa con especial atención a las comunidades que han sido históricamente marginadas. Para conectar la teoría y la práctica, ambas disfruta del uso de la literatura infantil como un medio para generar conversaciones de diversidad e inclusión con los estudiantes más jóvenes.

Kristi Slette:

K. Slette, M.Ed: Director of Whatcom Family & Community Network is a leader and trainer in mobilizing resilience in communities to promote wellbeing for children and families. Slette taught at WWU in the Human Services Program for 15 years and has been a local parent educator and coach, most recently relating to why hope, resilience and toxic stress matter.

Ray Soriano:

Ray Soriano, MSW, is a parent, child advocate, college instructor, and early learning leader with 30 years of experience that includes ECE teaching and administration, child welfare work, parent education, Head Start/ECEAP, and music education. Website: www.raysoriano.net.

Vesla Tonnessen:

Vesla Tonnessen is the Coordinator for the Whatcom Early Learning Alliance, a former preschool teacher, and a parent of young children. She has been a user and advocate of “Vroom” for the past 3 years. She uses “Vroom” outreach to connect with families, school districts, community organizations, and healthcare providers.  She has presented on the topic of “Loose Parts Play” at previous FOCUS conferences.

Elyssa Yunker:

Elyssa Yunker is not only an Early Achievers Coach and Trainer but actually pioneered our online trainings for the Northwest Region before the pandemic. She has a B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Fine Arts and also added a minor in Human Development with a focus on early education and family systems. 

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FAQ

  • Zoom Information

    How do I sign up for Zoom?

    You can sign up for a free Zoom account at zoom.us/signup.  Use the same email address that you used to register for the Focus on the Children conference

    Do I have to have a webcam to join on Zoom?

    No, but you will need either speakers or a headset connected to your computer or mobile device

    Requirements to use Zoom

    • An internet connection – recommended at 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down)
    • Computer or mobile device like a tablet or a phone that is connected with a cable or WiFi to the internet
    • Web browser – Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Edge
    • For the best Zoom experience we recommend downloading and installing the Zoom client

     Additional information

    Link to Zoom FAQ

    Frequently asked questions – Zoom Help Center

  • Canvas Information

    Canvas will be used for workshop evaluations, handouts, announcements, etc.

    Canvas Instructions - Your username is your full SID# and your default password is the first 8 characters of your last name (for short last names, repeat from the beginning until you reach eight). Please note that you may not see the class in Canvas until closer to the start date. 

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