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Workshops & Presenters

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Kristy DeGraaf

Family Child Care Pro


Kristy DeGraaf is a family childcare provider, trainer and childcare coach. Kristy started her career in social work and moved to Family Childcare in 2007 after finding it hard to locate good care for her own children. Kristy is passionate about PLAY, getting kids outside, and supporting other family childcare providers in their work through @kristy.degraaf on Instagram and Facebook. Kristy lives in Southern Utah - the heart of the Big 5 National Parks with her husband and four children. Kristy received the National Child Care Teacher of the Year Award from TLCCF/Children’s Tylenol in 2014 and is always working to improve her practice and work with the children. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Professional Communication.

2020 Annual Conference

From Play to Policy - Empower providers, amplify voices, create change: Childcare provider KNOW what is best for children and yet we are so often left out of the conversations about what that means in our programs, leading to burnout, developmental inappropriate exceptions and other issues. In this session you will learn effective strategies for communicating with lawmakers, local leadership, and others that impact our work. We will discuss the how to use “everyday advocacy”, storytelling, and collaboration as tools to improve support for early care and education. You will leave this session feeling empowered to make a difference where you stand and with tools to create positive changes.
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Anne Harris

Educational Consultant - Lively Minds Consulting

Anne Harris holds a master’s degree in early childhood education and has worked in the field for over 30 years. Anne started in the classroom, teaching for an NAEYC accredited center then for Head Start. After leaving the early childhood classroom, she worked for the City of Wichita for 20 years. The first 7.5 years were as a child care licensing specialist and the remainder as the Wichita Public Library's youth outreach/early literacy librarian. She has 19 years of experience as a college instructor, teaching Interaction Techniques with Young Children. In 2020, Anne started a business called Lively Minds Consulting which provides storytimes to groups of young children and professional development for early childhood professionals and children’s librarians. She’s also a training consultant for KCCTO (Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities) and a parent educator for Kansas Parents as Teachers Bright Futures program.

Social Emotional Learning and Literacy: Social Emotional Learning and Literacy Research has shown that social-emotional skills are the most important thing children need in order to be successful in kindergarten and throughout their lives. This session includes an overview of social-emotional milestones from birth to age five, the components of social-emotional learning and the benefits of focusing on social emotional development in our work with young children. We will share many books and activities that help children improve their emotional awareness and social skills.
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April Zajko

Educational Consultant - Aprils Learning Tree


April Zajko, M.Ed. supports educators who want to bring nature into the heart of curriculum. With over 23 years of classroom experience combined with supporting educators from the last 13, April brings relevant content and an inspiring message into her professional development offerings. April offers educator trainings, keynote presentations, ECE college courses, and builds community through virtual professional development series that build a strong foundation in research based practices for nature based early childhood educators. April is also the moderator of the Facebook group, Nature Inspired Teacher, which is an engaged group of over 13,000 educators. You can learn more about April at her website -

Yearlong Learning Outdoors using Nature as the Curriculum:  Roll up your sleeve and come prepared to generate a year's worth of ideas for engaging outdoor experiences. Together, we will develop easy yet effective play-based learning activities that nurture a connection with the natural world. We will utilize "break out rooms" to brainstorm in small groups how to develop outdoor seasonal learning activities with minimal or no preparation. Then we will share the ideas in the whole group so that we can be inspired by all of the ideas that the groups generated. At the end of our session, you will have a treasure trove of ideas spanning all four seasons so we leave feeling more equipped to implement a nature-based approach to authentic curriculum development.

Kim Specht

Early Childhood Behavior Specialist


Kim is an early childhood behavior specialist with USD #305 Salina and the Central Kansas Cooperative In Education. In this role,  Kim provides supports for both teachers and students struggling with challenging behaviors in the classroom. With 27 years of early childhood experience and a passion for the importance of early learning, Kim has continued her education to include a Masters of Science in Elementary Education and has endorsements in the areas of Reading Specialist, Early Childhood, Early Childhood Unified and ESL. Kim is also a Certified Autism Specialist and has been part of the adjunct faculty at Barton Community College for 5 years.

Sometimes I Just Want To Eat Cake:  This training explores the concept that sometimes we expect more from our children than we do from ourselves. It explores the ways we respond to our own emotions as adults and compares it to how we expect children to respond to their emotions. It promotes a balance between Empathy, Teaching Missing Skills, and Consequences. Recognize and implement best practices for young children in family child care settings.
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