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Workshops & Presenters

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LeeAnn Soucy and Kathy Gallo (aka The Two Pushy Dames) have worked in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) field for more than 70 combined years. Yup. They’re old. Both hold a Master’s degree in ECE and teach a variety of courses at North Shore Community College and Salem State University in Massachusetts. These Dames believe that professional development and training doesn’t have to be boring; they are fun and engaging and maybe a tiny bit sarcastic, too. Just like children who go through different developmental stages, Kathy and LeeAnn are at a stage in life where they aren't afraid to say what they feel and share what they know about important issues that affect young children.  Standards, assessments and high-stakes testing are now the spotlight of most schooling and they are being pushed down to younger and younger children.  This is developmentally inappropriate, harmful and wrong. The Two Pushy Dames are ‘pushing back on the push down’ and they hope that you will too. Please join us!

2020 Annual Conference

Childhood…What's the Rush?
If we measured our lifespan on a ruler, childhood would be about an inch.  Why are we rushing these tiny humans through this joyful and magical time?  Join the 'Two Pushy Dames' as they share the power (and the research) to push back on the academic push down that is potentially ruining the joy of childhood.  

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this 2-hour session, participants will be able to: 

  • Minimize the academic focus in FCC homes and maximize more thoughtful and effective learning opportunities

  • Understand and articulate the value of play as a tool for learning

  • Recognize and implement best practices for young children in family child care settings

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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.familychildcarepro 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.

Get Out! Creating Engaging Outdoor Classrooms

We will explore the value of creating engaging, play based, child directed, outdoor environments. We will discuss elements to include in outdoor classroom spaces and strategies for facilitating children’s play outside. Examples from working classrooms will be provided. Participants will also prepare a plan to implement changes in their programs.

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Kathrine Walker Schlageck

Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

Kathrine Schlageck is the curator of education at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. An educator with 37 years of experience, she specializes in using art to help build cognitive, communication and visual literacy skills across all age ranges. She has worked with early childhood learning for more than 30 years, presenting and Connecticut and Kansas Association for the Education of Young Children conferences. She currently teaches Building Skills Through Art, an online course for KCCCTO and works with education students at Kansas State University. Kathrine is a trained Visual Thinking Strategies facilitator, a method that uses the discussion of works of art to build 21st Century Skills. Her work with children's picture books and visual literacy was featured in an exhibition, catalogue and curriculum called Beyond Oz: Children's Book Illustrators from the Region at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art in 2002.

The Picture Book as Art Museum

Choosing and Using Illustrated Books to Build Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is the ability to read, write, create, and critically understand visual images. Visual literacy is about language, communication and interaction. Visual media is a linguistic tool with which we communicate, exchange ideas and navigate our highly visual digital world. Museum education often focuses on developing these skills in children and adults. Visual discrimination develops much earlier than reading skills and, in fact, children understand symbols much earlier than are able to speak, making early childhood the perfect time to develop visual literacy skills. In addition, these activities build pre-reading skills, communication skills, and critical thinking skills. By substituting picture books for an art museum collection, all providers have the ability to develop the skills that looking at art engenders. Objectives Understand the importance of developing visual literacy at a young age Gain techniques for using picture books to develop visual literacy Learn how to choose age appropriate picture books to meet learning goals.

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Robyn Kelton

McCormick Center

Robyn Kelton, M.A., is a Research and Evaluation Manager for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University (NLU). In this role, Robyn is a National Anchor and oversees all aspects of the McCormick Center's Program Administration Scale (PAS) and Business Administration Scale for Family Child Care (BAS) work, including promoting systems of reliability for the PAS and the BAS and managing the work of the quality supports team. Additionally, Robyn’s work focuses on research related to the evaluation needs of the professional learning initiatives at the Center as well as the relationship between evaluation tools, such as the PAS and BAS and program quality, workforce retention, and leadership development. Robyn holds a Baccalaureate degree in psychology from the University of Kansas (KU) and a Masters of Arts degree in psychology with an advanced certificate of study in organizational psychology from NLU. Robyn is currently pursuing a Ph. D. in the brain, behavior, and quantitative science psychology program at KU. Prior to joining the McCormick Center in 2006, Robyn spent three years as a lead teacher in a kindergarten classroom for an after-school program.

Making Friends With Finances and Recordkeeping

Fiscal management and recordkeeping are a critical part of small business success. However, FCC providers often don't receive enough FCC-specific support and professional development on these topics. This session will provide an overview of important components of recordkeeping and budgeting needed to increase participants’ financial literacy. Participants will also explore strategies for implementing their own recordkeeping practices and creating and updating a budget.

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Kelly Matthews, owner of A Place For You Early Childhood Consulting in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, joyfully explores engaged learning with people of all ages.  She is a published author whose writings are included in Learning Together with Young Children and the newly revised Reflecting Children’s Lives, both by Margie Carter and Deb Curtis.  Published articles are included in Young Children, Teaching Young Children, and Child Care Exchange. Over the last 20 years, she has worked in a number of early education settings, both center- and home-based care, as well as having been a director, nanny, mentor teacher, & presenter.  Now, the fulltime focus of Kelly’s work is her passion for bringing relevant, thought-provoking professional development to educators and caregivers around the country.   She is much more interested in “learning with” educators and not “telling to.” Kelly’s early childhood training has been a mixture of hands-on experiences in teaching children through mentoring relationships with master teachers as well as pursuing higher education in more formal ways.  Kelly earned her MA (Human Development) at Pacific Oaks College, with dual specializations in Leadership in Education& Human Services [sub-specialization: Teaching Adults] and Early Childhood Education.  She is exceptionally proud of this learning, grounded in social justice and meaningful, contextualized practice.  She currently is on the adjunct faculty of several technical colleges in Wisconsin.

Picky Eaters, “Try Bites” &; The Culture Of Food In Early Childhood Programs.

Food can be so simple, yet the issues around it are rather complex! What do you remember about your childhood kitchen table? Do you feel like picky eaters are dictating your menu? Has coming to the table become stepping into a power struggle? Do you wonder what messages kids may absorb about food as you cook and bake together? How are all these questions related? Join us for interactive explorations around the ideas of food, culture, rewards, responsibilities and power in early education
programs. CDA area: Planning a safe, healthy environment to invite learning

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Jessica Pitts

Kids Creative Space

Jessica Pitts is the Owner and Head Creative over at The Kids Creative Space, LLC. She graduated from the University of Kansas (ROCK CHALK) with a Bachelors of Music Education in Music Therapy in 2009. Jessica is a board certified music therapist and has worked in a pediatric private practice setting, home based and center based preschools, and public schools. She holds multiple certifications including in the Therapeutic Listening Program, Baby Bare Module 1, and Children’s Yoga Instruction. She was additionally a licensed and practicing Kindermusik educator for over a decade. Jessica loves fantasy novels. She is an expert in kitchen Disney music dance parties, drinking Diet Coke, and doing things “for the plot”. She currently lives in Shawnee, KS with her partner, their 3 daughters and a baby cat named Georgina Applebottom.

Rhythms And Rhymes

Practical applications of music and movement in the early childhood classroom (birth through 5) - The focus of this training is to give the attendee hands on practical strategies with music and movement that can be immediately implemented into the classroom. The science behind music and movement will be briefly touched on. Examples of presented strategies include songs for learning, transitional songs, musical books, how to utilize children's yoga in the classroom, movement props, movement stories, etc.


Kasey has been working for 15+ years in the early childhood field as a Center Director, a training specialist, written curriculum for the Kinesiology Department of Kansas State University, provided technical assistance to programs across the State of Kansas while serving on committees to develop a state-wide QRIS system, and has presented on a variety of topics nationally. She received her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education from Kansas State University. Currently she is the Director of Professional Development with Kodo Kids. As a leader in the field, she served on the Board of Directors for the Kansas Association for the Education of Young Children for over 12 years as President and Conference Chair. Further, she was recognized as an Emerging Leader by Child Care Exchange. Kasey has experience developing training curriculum for both onsite and online learning for early childhood providers. Additionally, she works diligently to provide a variety of adult education methods that meet each individual learning style by providing engaging activities. In particular, Kasey has presented many training sessions on topics related to music, movement, art, childhood obesity and screen time, health and safety, Code of Ethical Conduct, STEM, engineering, and many more. As a former Instructor with Kansas State University, she taught the following courses: Introduction to Early Childhood, The Early Childhood Environment, and Social and Emotional Development through Art, Music, Drama, and Movement.

STEM and Loose Parts

Loose parts are the materials of play. Most importantly, they support STEM learning and investigations. This session will introduce Kodo’s philosophy to STEM and how material properties, Loose Parts, and the environment supports children’s learning through play.

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Kim Adams holds a degree in Creative Arts from San Jose State University in California and has over 30 years' experience educating, directing, and operating preschools and child care centers. Since 2001, Kim has been the owner of Barron Park Preschool in Palo Alto, CA. Kim is a play advocate, educator, speaker, and certified Positive Discipline Parent and Classroom Educator. Kim enjoys leading workshops, staff development seminars, and delivering keynote presentations. Working both in and out of the classroom weekly to hone her skills and inform her own practice, Kim has an in-depth understanding of the ways in which children perceive and interact with their world. Kim is a champion for keeping play in early learning. Kim uses her experience and education to help educators and administrators tap into their creativity to bring forth inspired, meaningful, play-based and emergent curriculum. #playbarronpark

It Might Get Messy 

Supporting Creativity and Creative Thinking in Children and The Adults Who Serve Them Through Play

We know that children learn best through play and experience access to the creative-self in their early years more so than at any other time in their lives. Supporting children’s creativity can be an amazing experience for the early childhood educator as well. In this workshop participants will learn to adapt early childhood environments to support play and creativity, become familiar with creative behaviors and biases adults may have about those behaviors, and gain skills to support creativity and creative problem solving. Participants will be given examples of ways supporting creativity can get messy and will leave with some fun messy activity ideas too!

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